Don't be put off by fires, Australia tells tourists

Fires have swept through some 8 million hectares of land since they started earlier than usual in September

Fires have swept through some 8 million hectares of land since they started earlier than usual in September

Australian authorities warned people on Wednesday to prepare for another wave of evacuations as temperatures in the country's southeast began to rise after a days-long cool spell, bringing the danger of revitalised blazes.

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.

The current estimate sits at around 1.25 billion animals that may have been killed directly or indirectly from fires that have burnt 8.4 million hectares across Australia (equivalent to the whole of the country of Austria).

Smoke from the fires has been spotted more than 12,000 kilometres (7,400 miles) away in Brazil and Argentina, weather authorities in the South American countries said. Volunteers killed in action Dozens of Australian firefighters on Tuesday bid farewell to colleague Andrew O'Dwyer, one of three volunteers killed in recent fires.

The catastrophic bushfires have been fuelled by a crippling drought that has turned forests to tinder and exacerbated by climate change, which scientists say is increasing the length and intensity of Australia's fire season.

In Victoria state, telecommunications company Telstra was working to reconnect several communities.

Moody's Analytics said the cost of the fires could easily surpass that of the deadly 2009 Black Saturday fires that destroyed 450,000 hectares of land, which cost an estimated A$4.4 billion. Victoria state had 39 fires with 13 "watch and act" alerts.

More than 100 military personnel were being deployed to help with clean-up efforts across the state.

Across New South Wales, 130 fires were still burning on Tuesday, around 50 of which were uncontrolled.

"They are trying to secure fire lines where they can to try and minimise where these fires will burn again when conditions do warm up", Rob Rogers, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Deputy Commissioner told reporters in a morning briefing.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged $2 billion (C$1.8 billion) for recovery efforts, in addition to the tens of millions already designated for disaster relief.

Britain's Prince Charles joined a list of global figures sending support, referring to the "appalling horror unfolding in Australia" in a video.

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