Melbourne and Canberra have been pelted by golf-ball sized hail in separate storms within 24 hours. The wild weather prompted over 1,500 calls for emergency help in the state of Victoria alone. The rain has helped to fight bushfires, but many continue to burn. Storms have brought heavy rain to fire-hit regions of eastern Australia – but authorities warn the nation’s bushfire crisis is still “far from over”.
More than 80 blazes were still burning across New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria on Monday, despite downpours. Victoria, NSW and Queensland experienced heavy rainfall and floods in recent days, bringing relief to some blaze zones. But strong winds have also generated dust clouds, temporarily blacking out the sky in NSW towns such as Orange and Dubbo. Since September, blazes have killed at least 30 people, destroyed over 2,000 homes and burnt through 10 million hectares of land – an area almost the size of England. The crisis has been exacerbated by record temperatures, a severe drought and climate change. While the rain had proved “very helpful” to bushfire-affected communities, the storms also hindered some fire- fighting efforts, and caused a landslide on a highway. Air quality in Melbourne, soared beyond hazardous levels last week due to smoke from nearby bushfires. With Vijay Sonkhia, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.