Two navy vessels, The HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore, have arrived at the coastal town on Thursday to evacuate residents of the wildfire-hit coast, Epoch Times report. People to be transferred aboard on Friday morning.
As Australia’s bushfires are out of control, there have been 18 deaths since the blazes began four months ago. The scale bushfires made the country less attractive for tourists who have fled the Victorian coast ahead of worsening weather conditions.
On Thursday, the military started the operations on evacuating people trapped on the shore further south. According to the meteorologists, the fire conditions are expected to deteriorate on Saturday as high temperatures and strong winds return.
Cooler weather since Tuesday has aided firefighting and allowed people to replenish supplies, highways reopened for a while. New South Wales state Transport Minister Andrew Constance described the situation as the “largest mass relocation of people out of the region that we’ve ever seen”.
“There is every potential that the conditions on Saturday will be as bad or worse than we saw (on Tuesday),” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said.
At least eight people have died this week in NSW and neighbouring Victoria, Australia’s two most-populous states, where more than 200 fires are currently burning.
Food, water, fuel and medical expertise were being delivered and about 500 people were going to be evacuated from the town by a naval ship.
“We think around 3,000 tourists and 1,000 locals are there. Not all of those will want to leave, not all can get on the vessel at one time,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
Some 12.35 million acres of land – an area almost the size of Croatia – have burned nationwide over the past few months, with more than 1,300 homes destroyed.
PM Scott Morrison said the crisis was likely to last for months.
“It (fires) will continue to go on until we can get some decent rain that can deal with some of the fires that have been burning for many, many months,” Mr Morrison said on Thursday.
Defence authorities told media on Thursday people could ask to be taken out of Mallacoota, but the defense would prioritise who would get to leave first.