Firefighters battling a bushfire in Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast, Australia on Monday. John Park/ Reuters
A 12-year-old boy started a bushfire and two teenage girls were questioned over another blaze in Australia’s Queensland state, police said on Tuesday as forest fires forced hundreds of people to flee their homes in the country’s east.
Strong winds have fanned some 140 bushfires in northern Queensland and neigbouring New South Wales state this week, with flames ravaging thousands of hectares of land.
At least eight of the fires are suspicious, Queensland Police Commissioner Katrina Carroll told reporters, and police said they had questioned three children over blazes.
The 12-year-old boy was questioned after a group of teenagers were found on Monday in bushland near a skate park in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital.
The boy deliberately lit a fire which spread to a nearby storage facility, destroying a fence, two shipping containers and their contents, police said.
The boy was processed through the state’s juvenile legal system, which meant he was released with a caution, a police spokeswoman told Reuters.
Police were questioning two 14-year-old girls over a fire in bushland near the Gold Coast, the spokeswoman said.
“Some of the fires have involved children playing and obviously the consequences are dire as a result of that and ... some of them have been purposeful and malicious,” Carroll said.
“People can die. Buildings and residences are being destroyed,” she added.
In Queensland alone, low humidity levels, high winds and dry vegetation have fuelled 85 fires that have destroyed or damaged 84 houses across the state, fire service officials said.
There were more than 400 people in evacuation centres, acting Queensland premier Jackie Trad told reporters, adding there were no casualties.
“Apart from Sunshine Coast, we are still seeing fires right throughout the state,” she said.
In New South Wales, firefighters were battling about 55 fires and five properties had been confirmed destroyed, the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Monday.
Bushfires have started earlier than normal in the southern hemisphere spring. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said winds would intensify throughout the day on Tuesday, but fire threats should abate on Wednesday.
Police referred 18 “matters” to the United States, where three men have been arrested for multiple offences related to child abuse material.
Australian police on Wednesday said they had apprehended a British suspected drug offender, who tried to flee to Papua New Guinea on a jet ski.
Australian police on Tuesday arrested three men accused of links to Daesh over an alleged plot to attack police stations, embassies and defence facilities in central Sydney. The men — aged 20, 23 and 30 — were arrested
Priority would be given to those who are registered in the Hajj electronic system and whose data have been previously updated.
"The FNC is confident that the UAE, under President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed, will see a new era of achievements and development. The country will continue to be the nation of giving, tolerance, safety and security," Ghobash said.
The move, which will bring total available funding for projects over the next 15 months to $30 billion, was unveiled hours before a major United Nations meeting on global food security.