Australian authorities issued new warnings and evacuation notices across the country’s heavily populated southeast on Thursday as a return of hot weather fanned huge bushfires threatening several towns and communities.
A disaster notice in Victoria state, already in place for the past week, was extended by two days and people in danger zones were told to leave. In neighboring New South Wales state, authorities told residents to prepare for worsening weather conditions on Friday.
Twenty-six people have died, thousands have been made homeless and thousands of others have had to evacuate repeatedly as the monster fires have scorched through more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres) of land, an area the size of South Korea.
Many towns were without power and telecommunications and some were running low on drinking water supplies. Smoke has blanketed Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, and drifted as far as South America.
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