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Worst yet to come in Australia heatwave, say officials

Published on Jan 16, 2014 12:47 PM
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This handout photo taken on Jan 12, 2014 and supplied by Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) shows firefighters working to contain wildfires in the Stoneville area, a suburb east of Perth in the state of Western Australia.  Australians sweltering through an extreme heatwave were warned on Thursday that the worst was yet to come, with hundreds of fires raging in several states and temperatures nearing record highs. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australians sweltering through an extreme heatwave were warned on Thursday that the worst was yet to come, with hundreds of fires raging in several states and temperatures nearing record highs.

Most of south-east Australia has been in the grips of a scorching heatwave that triggered a devastating wildfire on the west coast, razing 55 homes and claiming one life on Sunday.

The mercury has soared above 40 degrees Celsius for successive days now in South Australia and there is a total ban on recreational fires in neighbouring Victoria where players at the Australian Open fainted, vomited and cramped up in blistering conditions.

Play was halted on Thursday afternoon due to the extreme heat, and a Melbourne school gardener, aged 76, died after collapsing on Wednesday in the grounds.

 
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