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Thousands flee wildfires in southern Australia

Published on Jan 5, 2013 9:30 AM
 
This picture taken on Jan 4, 2013, shows smoke from a bushfire billows over hills near Forcett, about 25km east of Hobart on Jan 4, 2013. Thousands have fled wildfires raging on the Australian island of Tasmania, destroying at least 80 properties and leaving unconfirmed reports of one man dying in the blaze, police said on Saturday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - Thousands have fled wildfires raging on the Australian island of Tasmania, destroying at least 80 properties and leaving unconfirmed reports of one man dying in the blaze, police said on Saturday.

The fires flared on Friday as much of the country suffered a summer heatwave which pushed temperatures above 40 deg C in Tasmania, a southern island state known for its cooler climate.

One of the worst affected areas was the small community of Dunalley, some 55km east of Hobart, where police estimate about 30 per cent of the buildings have been destroyed, including the police station and school.

In nearby Connelly's Marsh, about 40 per cent of buildings have been ruined.

 
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