Is it safe to travel to Australia? The latest FCO advice as bushfires force thousands to flee to coastline
Bushfires are continuing to ravage Australia, with thousands being forced to flee to beaches and the sea.
While there are currently no travel warnings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) against visiting Australia, you should check whether the area you're travelling to is affected.
The advice on the FCO website states:
"Australia continues to battle serious bushfires across multiple regions with authorities in some regions declaring a State of Emergency and ordering road closures and evacuations.
"If you are in or near an affected area or planning any travel, stay safe, monitor TV news, radio and social media channels for updates, and follow the instructions and advice of local authorities."
The worst hit areas are the eastern states, particularly New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria.
The main street of the New South Wales town of Bombala is pictured shrouded in smoke from nearby bushfires (Getty)
Death toll rises
Two more people have died in bushfires in NSW, taking the total death toll to 12.
Authorities say four people are missing in Victoria and another in NSW, while up to 4,000 locals in Mallacoota had to camp on wharves and take to the sea under red skies as the fires raged inland.
— Bradley Deacon 🇦🇺 (@BradleyWDeacon) December 30, 2019
The bodies of the latest victims were found in the town of Corbargo in NSW.
There have been hundreds of massive blazes in the eastern states of Australia since September, causing widespread devastation to the natural habitat and wildlife.
The FCO guidance adds:
"In the event of emergency, always dial Triple Zero (000).
"A Fire Danger Rating system operates across Australia indicating the possible consequences of a fire, if one were to start. The highest rating of ‘Catastrophic’ has been issued in several locations.
"Smoke generated by bushfires can result in poor air quality, which could provoke respiratory conditions. Smoke can often accumulate many kilometres from the fire, including in urban areas and major cities."
The Twitter feed for Victoria's emergency information service has been providing warnings for various locations across the state.
For some areas it advises that it is "too late to leave" and people "need to act immediately to survive".
EMERGENCY WARNING issued for Guys Forest.You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. Take shelter indoors immediately. It is too late to leave.There is a bushfire West South West of Walwa that is not yet under control.More info https://t.co/MVIhMOtZpB#vicfires pic.twitter.com/21jHrlhycT
— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) December 30, 2019
People in the region have also been receiving official text messages warning them of immediate danger and providing survival tips: