AUSTRALIA WILDFIRES Residents, tourists flee to safety as bushfires spread


Thousands of tourists and residents swarmed to beaches on Australia’s east coast to escape fierce wildfires bearing down on several seaside towns at the peak of the summer holiday period.

People have been agonising over whether to evacuate or stay, as fires approached the coastal town of Batemans Bay in New South Wales.

Footage obtained by Reuters showed people at the south coast of Batemans Bay evacuating heading for the beach from their homes at midday.

The huge bushfires have destroyed more than 4 million hectares (10 million acres), with new blazes sparked into life almost daily by extremely hot and windy conditions in bushland left tinder dry after a three-year drought. 

Fuelled by searing temperatures and high winds, more than 200 fires are now burning across the southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, threatening several towns.