Tasmaniaexperienced its peak temperature since records began with levels hitting 41.8C onFriday 4th January
The heatwave, which began in Western Australia on December 27 and lasted eight days, was the fiercest in more than 80 years in that state and has spread east across the nation, making it the widest-ranging heatwave in more than a decade, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Due to the dry conditions, fires broke out across Tazmania. Thousands of people have been stranded and at least 100 homes destroyed as wildfires sweep through the area.
On the island, holidaymakers and Tasmanian locals have been forced to flee by boat as at least 100 properties have been destroyed, a large number in the small community of Dunalley, east of Hobart, where the police station and school were burned down.
Al Jazeera Video report:
In Dunalley, the picturesque fishing town where properties including the school, police station and bakery were destroyed, residents told how they were forced to dive into a canal to escape the flames on Friday.
7 NEWS Australia Video report:
Large parts of south-east Australiaare suffering from the worst fire conditions since the Black Saturday disaster almost four years ago, when 173 people in rural Victoria lost their lives.
Watch: BBC News VIDEO REPORT
Can the body cope with 50c? Read the article here to find out more As a result of the extreme temperatures, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have had to add a new colour to their temperature maps. Watch the video to find out more
UPDATE – 7th January 2013: South East Australia was starting to see wildfires spreading following a heatwave that had seen record breaking temperatures:
IMAGES – Collection of pictures showing ‘catastrophic’impact of the wildfires in Australia
: Jan 09, 2013
UPDATE – January 12th 2013:
VIDEO – Roads melt in Australia. Record temperatures in the outback cause havoc:
VIDEO: Massive Australian duststorm looks like a giant red wave. Footage and explanation:
Report from ITN on the ‘red wave’:
As the fires continue to rage, many volunteer firefighters have been called in to help with the containment effort. Among them are chefs, electricians and pilots. Backburning is now being used to contain the spread of the fires. Find out more about how this works here by watching this report from Al Jazeera English here:
Sources: BBC News, New Zealand Herald, 9 NEWS, Al Jazeera, 7 NEWS, BBC Weather, CNN, The Atlantic Wire