BBC News – Australia bushfires: Thousands stranded in Tasmania
5 January 2013 Last updated at 23:12 ET

Much of Australia is experiencing a heatwave, as Nick Bryant reports

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Rescue teams in the Australian state of Tasmania are searching for missing people after bushfires swept the island.

Thousands of people have been stranded and at least 100 homes destroyed.

Much of Australia is experiencing a heatwave, and temperatures in the Tasmanian state capital Hobart earlier reached a record high of 41C.

A fall in temperatures and easing wind speeds are expected to help fire crews still battling several major fires.

But thousands remain in evacuation centres as dozens of fires continue to burn out of control.

The BBC’s Nick Bryant in Sydney says large swathes of south-east Australia are suffering from the worst fire conditions since the Black Saturday disaster almost four years ago, when 173 people in rural Victoria lost their lives.

He says there has been a combination of a record-breaking heatwave, high winds and drought, with Tasmania by far the worst hit.            …(more).

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