Australia’s bushfires have been described as a “wake-up call for the world” as overseas governments grapple with the scope of the crisis.
The warning from British House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle came as firefighters prepare for a return of dangerous conditions this week and as tales of “miracle” survival emerge.
Mr Hoyle expressed the UK parliament’s “deepest sympathies” with the people of Australia on Wednesday morning Australian time and sent a “message of solidarity” to his colleagues Down Under.
Around 130 fires continue to burn across NSW and Victoria, many of them uncontained.
Some 4.8 million hectares have been burnt in NSW this season and around 1.2 million hectares in Victoria, claiming the lives of 25 people as well as thousands of livestock and untold numbers of native animals.
“We pay tribute to the firefighters and all those who are putting their lives at risk,” Mr Hoyle said.
“The magnitude of the disaster unfolding in Australia should shock us all, with human and animal lives and precious species of fauna being destroyed,” he added.
“This is a wake-up call for the world. All Australians are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Liberal MP Craig Kelly fuelled international media debate on Tuesday when he appeared on UK’s Good Morning Britain in a trainwreck interview that saw him branded a “climate denier”.
The message also came as firefighters in New South Wales and Victoria are making the most of milder conditions and welcome rains to head off a possible “mega-blaze” developing in the coming days.
More to come
Dangerous fire weather is set to return to Australia’s south east by Friday, with temperatures expected to reach the mid-30s on the coast and low-to-mid-40s inland.
The race to prepare for the rise in temperature also comes as the NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed on Tuesday that two men missing on NSW’s fire-ravaged far south coast had been confirmed safe.
Fire danger ratings on Wednesday will remain at low levels in East Gippsland and will rise to very high in the northeast, as temperatures rise slightly ahead of forecast spike days on Thursday and Friday.
“In terms of weather and fire conditions, again we talk about, now, benign conditions, the fire is suppressed. It is still there. It is still tinder dry in East Gippsland in the northeast of our state,” Emergency Management Commissioner for Victoria Andrew Crisp told reporters on Tuesday night.
“That’s not going to make a difference. It is holding there for the moment.”
A group of residents from Cann River, in East Gippsland have recounted their “miracle” escape from the flames after finally being trapped in the remote township for more than a week.
Emergency services led a convoy of 13 cars on a two-hour journey out of Cann River to the larger town of Orbost on Tuesday, where the group restocked on essential supplies before returning home.
Firefighter Max Kalz told the ABC of how he and other Cann River residents faced down the fire front last week and described seeing a “big wall of flames” coming towards him.
Mr Kalz said firefighters who were protecting the school at Cann River where residents sheltered.
“It was just a miracle, the fire went right around us,” he said.
“I am surprised I am here to tell the story, I am surprised that no-one was hurt,” he said.
The number of homes lost in Cann River is unknown because assessment teams are yet to gain access.
Mr Kalz said Cann River residents remained trapped in the days after the fire.
But he said the community celebrated when helicopters started dropping off supplies.
“You can’t get in, you can’t get out and they are coming in by air, that was just something really special,” he said.