Australia bushfires: Canberra suffers despite rain and cash boost | News | DW | 06.01.2020
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Australia bushfires: Canberra suffers despite rain and cash boost

The southeast of the country has some welcome relief thanks to the weather. Bushfires have wreaked havoc in recent weeks and the prime minister has promised substantial funds to help the region recover.

Southeastern Australia received some respite on Monday when the fire-ravaged area of the country saw some rain and cooler conditions.

A second day of light drizzle and mild winds brought some welcome relief from the heatwave-fueled bush fires that tore through two states over the weekend. Officials, though, warned of complacency as the hazardous weather conditions could return later in the week.

Read more: Australia: My country is burning

"No one can be complacent. We've got big fire danger coming our way towards the end of this week with hot weather," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters.

Indeed, the relief afforded to some areas of the country was not so evident in Canberra as it saw its air quality remain at a dangerous level due to smoke from the fires in the region.

The Australian capital recorded the worst air quality of any major city in the world on Monday morning.

PM under fire

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has been heavily criticized throughout the crisis, pledged AU$2 billion ($1.4 billion, €1.3 billion) over the next two years to help cover the damage caused by the bushfires and to aid the area in its restoration.

"What we are focusing on here is the human cost and the rebuilding cost for people's lives," the PM told reporters.

The wildfires have so far scorched an area almost twice the size of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, or the US state of Maryland. The blazes have resulted in the deaths of at least 24 people and destroyed roughly 2,000 homes.

Scientists are convinced man-made global warming has helped feed the fires but Morrison has been chastised for previous comments that were dismissive of the need to address climate change.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has said "Climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous bushfire conditions in Australia and other regions of the world."

Morrison also came in for heavy criticism for taking a family vacation in Hawaii at the start of the crisis, as well as a sluggish response to return home.

Watch video 01:46

Morrison confronted by angry NSW residents

Tennis players step up

With the Australian Open on the horizon, a number of tennis stars have already made donations, with Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic both giving money to the cause.

Local tennis star Nick Kyrgios last week assured fans he would donate AU$200 for every ace he hits in the tournaments in Australia throughout January.

jsi/rt (dpa, AP, Reuters)

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