World reacts to Aussie bushfires

 

As dusk settled on a scorched Australian landscape yesterday, the northern hemisphere woke to news of the unprecedented and "catastrophic" bush fire emergency raging.

The world's media has reacted with shock to the sheer scale of the situation, 83 fires burning in NSW and one blaze covering a 150,000-hectare area, with a perimeter of 1000km.

In Queensland, fire authorities continue to battle 60 blazes, with fears about the impact of a forecast wind change today.

Britain's The Telegraph newspaper ran a story headlined "Bush fires hit Sydney as Australia braced for 'catastrophic' conditions", in reference to yesterday's fire in bushland bordering Turramurra.

The suburb in the city's north was covered in pink fire retardant sprayed from circling planes in a bid to protect homes. Their efforts were successful.

The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.
The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.

 

The New York Times’ coverage of the fires (inset). Picture: Supplied
The New York Times’ coverage of the fires (inset). Picture: Supplied

The BBC also led on the threat to the city yesterday, which sat in one of several "catastrophic" fire danger zones, declaring: "Australian bushfires reach Sydney's suburbs."

The public broadcaster's extensive coverage touched on a topic that has bristled Australian politicians and sparked debate while fire rages - the role of climate change.

The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.
The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.

"Scientists and experts warn that Australia's fire season has grown longer and more intense due to climate change," the BBC said.

"Officials have confirmed that 2018 and 2017 were Australia's third and fourth-hottest years on record respectively, and last year the nation experienced its warmest summer on record.

"The Bureau of Meteorology's State of the Climate 2018 report said climate change had led to an increase in extreme heat events and raised the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought."

Elsewhere in UK media, the tabloid Express described a "wall of flames" bearing down on Sydney, as well as detailing the thousands of people displaced from homes in rural and regional communities across southern Queensland and northern NSW.

"For the first time ever, the Sydney area has also been warned of a 'catastrophic' fire threat," the newspaper said.

The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.
The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.


The Irish Times spoke to expats living in Australia to hear their experiences, with Marion Reilly in Sydney telling the newspaper that "things are really bad here".

"The sky is bright red, and the winds are hot and howling," she said.

"There are 85 fires burning across New South Wales right now with over a million hectares burned. Spare a thought for all the devastation including animals and wildlife killed. I'm praying that no more lives will be lost."

The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.
The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.

Other Irish expats told the newspaper about the smoke haze that settled over Sydney on Tuesday afternoon, turning the sky a bright red colour.

"There's a haze-like fog and the distinct smell of burn in the air," Nora Murphy said.

EuroNews detailed the evacuation efforts that were undertaken in regional communities over the past several days, with at least 150 properties already destroyed.

"Bushfires are a common and deadly threat during Australia's hot, dry summers but the current severe outbreak, well before the summer peak, has caught many by surprise," the outlet said.

The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.
The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.

In the United States, cable news networks kept their audiences updated throughout the day, with Bloomberg devoting significant airtime to the emergency.

The outlet touched on the extremely dry and hot conditions, coupled with strong winds, that presented the most serious challenge to fire crews.

"More than 70 wildfires are burning across New South Wales state, devastating rural areas left tinderbox dry by a two-year drought," it said.

The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.
The world's media reacts to Australia's bushfire emergency.

And the United Nations' news website, UN News, ran commentary from the organisation's weather service about the lack of rain forecast.

It also wrote about the contribution of climate change to worsening fire seasons and detailed Australia's legacy of bushfires, revealing the cost of disasters between 1967 and 2013 had totalled $3.25 billion and cost 433 lives.



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