The death toll in the bushfires raging across Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state has risen to four after a man’s body in a burnt forest, as authorities warned on Thursday of worsening weather conditions to come.“The man is yet to be formally identified, however, it’s believed to be the body of a 58-year-old man who lived in a shed nearby,” NSW Police in an emailed statement.
The fires have destroyed about one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of farmland and bush over the past week, fuelled by dry-conditions and high winds after three years of drought that experts, one of the experts said. The man’s body was found late on Wednesday near the town of Kempsey in northeast NSW. He is suspected to be a man who had not been seen since Friday.
Kempsey is just over 400km (249 miles) north of Sydney, Australia’s biggest city and has surfed under extreme conditions in recent weeks. Some 300 homes have been destroyed in NSW alone in recent days as flames stretched from the state’s north down the coast to suburban Sydney.
Bushfires are very common in Australia’s hot, dry summers, but the ferocity and early arrival of the fires in the southern spring this year has caught many by surprise. About 60 fires were burning around NSW Thursday morning while being battled by more than 1,000 firefighters, the Rural Fire Service said.
Daytime temperatures were expected to be above average for the summer with night-time temperatures also expected to be higher between December and February. Australian climate patterns are being influenced by the long-term increasing trend in global air and ocean temperatures.