Park visitors rescued from bushfire as heatwave strikes Australia


  • World
  • Saturday, 20 Jan 2018

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Holidaymakers trapped by bushfire had to be rescued by boat from a national park south of Australia's largest city of Sydney and 200 people were evacuated by firefighters as a heatwave struck the eastern seaboard on Saturday.

Firefighters in the state of New South Wales said on Facebook they were escorting 200 people to safety from the Wattamolla area to Bundeena as two fires raged south of Sydney on Saturday evening.

The Rural Fire Service had earlier issued an emergency warning to visitors in the Royal National Park as the blaze threatened the main access road to a popular tourist spot called Wedding Cake Rock where people posted pictures of the billowing smoke to social media.

"Beaches may offer safety," the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said in a Facebook post as aircraft water-bombers attempted to slow the fire and emergency warnings were sent to the mobile phones of all people in the area.

"Firefighters, police, surf lifesavers and National Parks personnel are working with people at beaches in the Royal National Park to help manage their relocation as it's safe to do so - including by boat and road escort," The RFS wrote on Facebook.

The park was crowded with visitors and had closed shortly before noon because the carparks were full to capacity, local media outlet news.com reported.

A number of bushfires sparked across the state of New South Wales on Saturday, with temperatures soaring above 39C in some areas as a heatwave advanced across the eastern states where the Bureau of Meteorology issued fire weather warnings.

On Friday, the heat struck the south-eastern state of Victoria, causing discomfort at the Australian Open tennis tournament.

(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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