Australian towns among hottest spots on earth as heatwave sizzles, Latest World News - The New Paper

Australian towns among hottest spots on earth as heatwave sizzles

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SYDNEY Australian towns were among the hottest places on earth this week as a heatwave hit the continent's south-east, with forecasters warning of more record-breaking temperatures before the weekend.

The past four days were among the country's top 10 warmest on record, with temperatures nearing 50 deg Cin some spots, the Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday.

High temperatures are not unusual in Australia during its southern hemisphere summer, with bush fires a common occurrence.

But climate change has pushed up land and sea temperatures and led to more extremely hot days and severe fire seasons.

The city of Port Augusta recorded a temperature of 48.9 deg C, almost one degree higher than its previous record set on Feb 7, 2009.

The desert town of Coober Pedy - where some residents live underground to escape the harsh conditions - equalled its temperature record of 47.4 deg C.

In the state's capital Adelaide, where cycling's Tour Down Under and the cricket One Day International between Australia and India were being held, athletes sweltered through a maximum temperature of 41.9 deg C.

Australia's animals, already battered by a drought plaguing the east of the continent, are also feeling the heat.

Up to one million fish are believed to have died along the banks of a major river system, with authorities warning of more deaths to come as temperatures soar.

The New South Wales government said it would install aerators in some waterways to keep the levels of oxygen up for fish. - AFP