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Hundreds of thousands of fish dead in Australia

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SYDNEY: "Hundreds of thousands" of fish have died in drought-stricken Australia in the last few days and more mass deaths are likely, the authorities warned yesterday.

Locals around the Darling River were confronted with a sea of white, as dead fish carpeted the waters near the Outback town of Menindee.

It comes weeks after up to a million fish were killed - with scientists pointing to low water and oxygen levels as well as possibly toxic algae - in another mass death in the food-growing region.

Inspectors from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries visited the site and said they found "hundreds of thousands of fish have died".

"Further fish deaths in the Darling River are anticipated as a significant number of fish have been observed under stress," the department said.

With temperatures expected to rise and no rain forecast, there remained a "high risk of further fish kills over the coming days and week".

Experts and locals said they stem from the systemic depletion and pollution of the river.

The inspectors added that the latest bout of kills were likely linked to "critically low levels of dissolved oxygen" caused by a sharp drop in temperatures after an extended period of hot weather.

New South Wales Regional Water Minister Niall Blair said his government was out of options, with aerators in rivers only a "Band-Aid solution".

He added: "The only thing that will really change these conditions... is fresh water coming through the system and there is just no possibility of that at the moment." - AFP