Canadian Firefighters In Australia Were Cheered At The Airport When They Arrived

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference on the governments' bushfire response at Parliament House in Canberra on Jan 4 2020

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For the first time in Australian history the government also deployed its medical assistance team - normally sent to other nations to lend support in the aftermath of their disasters - to help evacuees.

"It's our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping wage war on our own country". This live blog will bring you stories from our mastheads around Australia and will do its very best to help our readers stay safe and informed.

The fires, fuelled by drought and the country's hottest and driest year on record, have been raging since September - months earlier than is typical for Australia's annual wildfire season.

Authorities have charged 24 with deliberately lighting bushfires.

Fires that started in September have swept through more than 8 million hectares (19.8 million acres) of land, an area almost the size of Austria, killing 25 people and destroying or damaging thousands of homes across the country's southeast. But it's not just Australia that is being affected by these fires.

Morrison's announcement of the funds, which will go toward rebuilding towns and infrastructure destroyed by the fires, came as the death toll from the disaster rose with the discovery of a body in a remote part of New South Wales. It is the country's most populous state.

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The Insurance Council of Australia increased its estimate for damages claims from the fires to more than A$700 million on Tuesday, with claims expected to jump further when more fire-hit areas are accessible.

"The fires have been devastating for Australia's wildlife and wild places, as vital areas of bush, forests and parks have been scorched and many millions of animals killed or injured", Dr. Stuart Blanch, senior manager land clearing and restoration with World Wildlife Fund-Australia, told ABC News. "Until the fires subside the full extent of damage will remain unknown".

"What we are focusing on here is the human cost and the rebuilding cost for people's lives", prime minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra as he announced funding of A$2 billion (N$19,88 billion) over two years to the newly formed National Bushfire Recovery Agency. Tens of millions had already been promised to the cause.

Thousands of firefighters fought to contain the blazes but many continued to burn out of control, threatening to wipe out rural townships and causing nearly incalculable damage to property and wildlife.

Forty-eight USA firefighters are scheduled to arrive in Australia on Wednesday, officials said, joining 39 of their compatriots already on the ground. Additionally, celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Iggy Azalea and Leonardo DiCaprio have donated.

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