Thousands of firefighters in Australia are battling wildfires across the country’s south-east which have destroyed dozens of homes and set a coal mine alight.
The worst of the fires spread in swirling winds across the state of Victoria, which faced its worst threat since the Black Saturday fires in February 2009 which killed 173 people.
The fires, which include a blaze with a front more than 24 miles long, have spread across the state and reached the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city.
Thousands of people were evacuated across the state, more than 30,000 residents spent the night without power and some rural train services were suspended. No lives have been reported lost but further losses of homes are expected.
In Kilmore, a town about 35 miles north of Melbourne, residents said the damage was “horrendous”.
Firefighters from interstate and from New Zealand joined the battle, as authorities deployed more than 200 tankers and 21 aircraft. Police are investigating nine cases of arson, which may have contributed to the 150-odd fires that have broken out in recent days.
Milder conditions have assisted fire crews but about 48 blazes in Victoria remain out of control. A fire has broken out in an open-cut coal mine in the Latrobe Valley, east of Melbourne, which is likely to take several days to control.