Kangaroo flees Australian bush fire

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 2:47am

A kangaroo flees across a road from a forest fire in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria yesterday. Temperatures in Sydney, the nation's largest city, yesterday hit their highest levels since records began 150 years ago, peaking at 45.8 degrees Celsius. The old record, of 45.3 degrees Celsius, was set in January 1939. It is the latest record broken as Australia swelters under a heatwave that has affected 70 per cent of the country and created what experts have called a "dome of heat" over the nation's outback centre.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the heatwave had been affecting large parts of Australia since late last year. "The record-setting temperatures were not limited to Sydney, with records being set along the coast," the bureau said. Australia's all-time record temperature is 50.7 degrees Celsius, set in January 1960 in Oodnadatta, South Australia.

The unprecedented heatwave prompted the government's Climate Commission to issue a new report on the weather event last weekend. It said climate change had contributed to making the extreme heat conditions and bush fires even worse. "The length, extent and severity of the current heatwave are unprecedented in the measurement record," noted the report titled "Off the Charts: Extreme Australian summer heat". "Although Australia has always had heatwaves, hot days and bush fires, climate change is increasing the risk of more frequent and longer heatwaves and more extreme hot days, as well as exacerbating bush fire conditions."