At least three people have been killed and over 150 houses have been destroyed in bushfires raging across eastern Australia. A record number of emergency warnings were issued this week.
Three people were found dead and at least 150 homes were destroyed as bushfires raged across eastern Australia, authorities said on Saturday.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) said that the remains of a person were found in a vehicle. At least five other people are unaccounted for.
A woman also died in hospital on Saturday of burns sustained near the town of Glen Innes on Friday.
A third body was found on Saturday afternoon in a burned house at the village of Johns River, north of Taree, police said.
Fire services in the affected area are on high alert, according to NSW RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.
"I'm expecting to see those alert levels change throughout the day, probably worsen, more likely than not, as the afternoon winds pick up and the fire behavior spreads a little more," Fitzsimmons said on Saturday.
"We are expecting the number of missing persons to climb today," he told reporters. "We can't rule out the really grave concerns that there could be more losses or indeed more fatalities as we get through and identify details across these fire grounds," he added.
How many fires are blazing?
A record number of emergency warnings have been issued this week. Parts of the country are facing the worst drought in living memory.
More than 30 people have been injured overall as a result of the fires, including 19 firefighters. Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted his thanks to firefighters.
Seventy-two fires are burning across the state of New South Wales, with six described as being at emergency levels. At the peak of the blaze on Friday night, 17 emergency-level fires were burning.
Further north, in Queensland, thousands of people spent the night in temporary evacuation centers. A jail near the NSW town of Glen Innes also was forced to evacuate its prisoners.
ed/dr (Reuters, AP, dpa)