As news coverage picks up, Australia continues to burn with relentless bush fires particularly plaguing its southeast states of New South Wales and Victoria, covering its skies in an eerie blood red color. In a report by Global News last January 4, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that at least 24 people have already died from the natural disaster since it first started last September.
What We Know So Far
Now considered a nationwide catastrophe, despite international fire fighting aid from countries such as the US and Canada, the situation only continues to worsen. Just yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported of 130 fires burning across New South Wales, and 31 in Victoria, causing temperatures to rise beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only that, but the wildfires have also already "blackened more than 22,000 square miles."
As of last Saturday, The Daily Mail UK reported that five million hectares of land have been burned and destroyed, with over 1500 homes lost, and a devastating number of 500 million animals have died as estimated by Australian biodiversity expert Professor Chris Dickman of the University of Sydney.
In recent developments, CNN also reported on three fires having converged to form a 6000-hectare blaze "bigger than the New York borough of Manhattan" in Victoria state.
Bushfires in the southeast aren't new to Australia. They're a seasonal occurrence that often happens from December to March while the country suffers the most from drought and rising temperatures. Global News points the severity of this year's wildfires to climate change, which have caused an unbearable surge in temperature, leading to hotter and drier conditions.
The last time Australia had gone through a disaster this catastrophic was during the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, which took 180 lives in its wake.
How to Help
While we may be sitting miles away from the disaster, we can still help by donating to organizations and fundraisers who are either working to contain the fires; providing food, home, and shelter to those affected; or saving injured wildlife.
Follow the links below:
- Australia's Red Cross Disaster relief and recovery fund - to aid evacuation centers as they take in thousands of affected communities.
- The Salvation Army online donation page - for monetary donations used to purchase meals and goods for the victims of the fires.
- St. Vincent de Paul Society donation page - to provide food and clothing for evacuated families, and aid with bills and expenses for recovering homes.
- Country Fire Association - to support the firefighting efforts in Victoria.
- NSW Rural Fire Service donation page - to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales.
- WIRES Emergency Fund- to help wildlife victims.