Victorian bushfires: Missing tally revised, authorities warn of long battle
The number of people missing in the state’s bushfire crisis is now at seven, as authorities use today’s calmer conditions in East Gippsland to try to reach isolated communities.
Of most concern on the fire front is the Corryong blaze in the north-east, which threatens to combine with a bushfire burning in NSW to form one massive blaze.
Nearly 50 fires continue to burn across the state; 900,000 hectares have been burnt, including 700,000 in East Gippsland alone.
Emergency Services Commissioner Andrew Crisp warns that despite the rain and cooler temperatures, the fire-risk will remain for weeks.
In East Gippsland, the Princes Highway is now open between Lake Tyres and Orbost after earlier closures, but the highway remains closed from Orbost through to the NSW border.
While the change will bring relief from the heat, authorities remain on high alert as to how the winds will impact the firefighting effort.
Evacuation efforts were thwarted by worsening conditions on Saturday.
Aircraft were unable to land at Mallacoota, where hundreds of people remain stranded, due to thick smoke that showered the town with ash.
— Sam Cucchiara (@SamCucchiara9) January 4, 2020
Many of those stranded are young families with children aged under 5, who were unable to board a navy vessel.
Disappointed to report the Spartan aircraft unable to land at Mallacoota due to poor visibility and couldn’t bring anyone out, or deliver supplies at present. Hopefully conditions will improve and all aircraft based at East Sale RAAF Base will be back in action. #lovegippsland pic.twitter.com/iCQeFPEoXy
— Darren Chester MP (@DarrenChesterMP) January 4, 2020
Emergency warnings and EVACUATE NOW notices are changing constantly. For the latest information visit emergency.vic.gov.au
Top image: Think smoke from bushfires fills the air in eastern Gippsland (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)