MELBOURNE: Intense thunderstorms with heavy rains dampened bushfires on Australia’s east coast on Friday and brought relief to farmers struggling years of drought, but the city of Melbourne prepared for another wave of polluted weather over the weekend.
Since September, Australia, known for its pristine beaches and wildlife, has been battling bushfires, killing 29 people and millions of animals and damaging more than 2,500 homes while destroying an area about a third of Germany’s population.
Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, three of the countries most affected by drought and bushfires, welcomed this week’s drenching storm, with fire services claiming the falls won’t extinguish all the blazes, but will greatly help containment.
“Our fingers are crossed that this continues over the coming days,” New South Wales fire services said on Twitter on Friday.
But on Friday 30 fires in New South Wales were still out of control, unchanged from the day before, the fire service reported.
Dozens of other fires in the southern state of Victoria were also still burning.
The rain skipped Kangaroo Island entirely, the nation’s third largest off the mainland’s southern coast, renowned for its pristine wilderness.
The island’s national park was destroyed by fires, eliminating much of its koala population and threatening to kill birds and other endangered marsupial species altogether.