‘Utterly surreal’: Thousands trapped on Australian beach by massive fire, turning skies RED & raining embers (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Inching its way toward the seaside town of Mallacoota early on Tuesday, the inferno has left thousands of tourists and locals stranded with no route of escape, as officials warn of extreme fire-induced thunderstorms and “ember attacks” in the area.
“We've got a fire that looks like it's about to impact on Mallacoota,” Andrew Crisp, emergency management commissioner in the state of Victoria, told ABC, adding that three “strike teams” of emergency workers had been sent to watch over the thousands trapped on the beach.Also on rt.com ‘Baby Yoda vibes’: Aussie firefighters warm hearts with VIRAL pics of rescued koalas
Though a number of structures, including homes, have already succumbed to extreme temperatures and embers given off by the blaze and carried by high winds, no serious injuries have yet been reported in the town. Some areas have lost both electricity and phone service, according to local media.
As the flames marched eastward on Mallacoota, sweeping over 200,000 hectares, startling images emerged on social media showing skies dyed bright red, with the encroaching fires and a thick blanket of smoke transforming the idyllic seaside town into a scene from Armageddon.
The skies turned solid black in some areas, where billowing plumes of smoke successfully blotted out the Sun and turned day back into night. “It's not pleasant, it's pitch dark here and the emergency vehicles have disappeared from sight,” Francesca Winterson, a resident and local radio presenter, told ABC.
My home's in the fire path, I won't have a home, that's just the way it's going to be; we have to try and be calm.
#Mallacoota looks like a volcano erupted 😨 this what eyewitnesses are seeing pic.twitter.com/oIuEB9Z0Oipitch black.. no light at 9:51am ⚠️power is out ⚠️smoke all around ⚠️ash falling from the sky ⚠️thunderstorm created by the fire conditions ⚠️#BushfireCrisis#VicFires— Mark 🎧🎼✊🏻 🔴⚪️💙 (@WorldOfMarkyD) December 30, 2019
While authorities had asked some 30,000 tourists in the region to flee the fires in recent days, some were unwilling or unable to heed the warning, leaving them stuck directly in the inferno’s path. Preparations are now underway for sea and airborne evacuations, AFP reported, while some of those trapped are donning life jackets in the event that they have to flee into the ocean, which authorities have deemed a “last-resort option.”
The east coast of Victoria is currently on fire, in Mallacoota around 5000 people have been trapped by the fires with no way out. Many properties have been damaged and it's estimated at least half a million wildlife has been lost all together. Yet still no international coverage pic.twitter.com/dPW02K31Od— tahlia (@tahliap02) December 31, 2019
A number of other fires continue to rage elsewhere in Australia, which has seen hundreds of brush blazes in recent months amid a lingering drought. Two people are missing in the town of Cobargo some 200km (125 miles) north of Mallacoota, where fires damaged or destroyed dozens of properties on Monday, while a volunteer firefighter was also killed battling flames in the state of New South Wales. Two others remain unaccounted for elsewhere in the region.
BREAKING PHOTOS: Images from the coastal Australian town of Mallacoota, where around 4,000 people are sheltering in and around the water as fires continue to burn in the area - The Age pic.twitter.com/JE8MS5xN3s— LIVE Breaking News (@NewsBreaking) December 31, 2019
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