High-rise buildings are seen through smoke from bushfires during sunset in Sydney, Australia. File photo/Reuters
Australia recorded its lowest level of rainfall for the month of November, the country’s weather bureau said on Thursday, as an unrelenting drought fuels deadly bushfires.
All of Australia received less than 50 mm (1.9 inches) of rain during November, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said, with parts of the west coast receiving less than 1 mm.
The dry weather extends a drought that has gripped Australia’s east coast for three years and left bushland tinder-box dry as bushfires rage across the most populous states.
Bushfires have killed at least four people and destroyed more than 400 homes since the start of November. Fires are still burning in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland states.
The dry weather is not expected to break for at least another three months, BOM said last week, heightening the risk of more bushfires.
With no rain relief, firefighters on Thursday continued to battle more than 100 blazes across the east coast and with winds set to strengthen authorities are worried the fires may spread.
“Today will be a long and challenging day,” the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said in a statement.
The crisis has put pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison as critics say the Australian leader has not done enough to address the impact of climate change, which meteorologists have said was extending the length of the fire weather season.
As well as bushfires, the dry weather has also had a devastating impact of Australia’s agriculture sector.
Australia’s chief commodity forecaster on Tuesday cut its wheat production forecast by nearly 20% for the year through June 2020, with output expected to fall to an 11-year low.
As Australian farmers were harvesting crops, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences pegged production of the country’s largest rural export at 15.85 million tonnes, down nearly 18% from its previous estimate in September of 19.2 million tonnes.
The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) expects that the country during the month of January will see a number of surface depressions extending from west to east, and will occasionally be affected by the Red Sea depression,
Thousands of firefighters were fortifying containment lines on Monday as temperatures were forecast to soar, increasing the danger of a fresh wave of bushfires across Australia’s east coast.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state is facing "another terrible day" and called on people in areas threatened by the fires to leave while they can.
'The UAE has decided to renew, from today and for a renewable period of two weeks, the suspension of entry of all foreign nationals holding valid UAE residence visa, in a bid to contain the spread the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure their safety.
The ministry also announced that 35 cases fully recovered from the virus, after receiving treatment, bringing the total recovered cases to 96.
The Ministry said a 62-year old Asian expat and a 78-year old GCC national who tested positive for COVID-19 died due to complications related to chronic diseases. This brings death toll to eight.
"Considering the problems of overseas Pakistanis it has been decided that the first flight would land at Islamabad International Airport on April 4. All passengers will be sent in quarantine and tested for COVID-19. Those tested negative will be sent home through special arrangement of transport," Asad Umar said.