Fires contained in hard-hit New South Wales, but now floods threaten

Sydney was inundated after days of torrential rain, a spectacular reversal from months of drought that caused massive bushfires. (AFP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Fires contained in hard-hit New South Wales, but now floods threaten

  • Heavy rains that helped extinguish the blazes that have raged since September are causing flash floods in parts of the state
  • Bushfires scorched more than 10 million hectares in the country’s east and south

SYDNEY: All the blazes in Australia’s hard-hit state of New South Wales have been brought under control, firefighters said on Thursday, signaling the end of a “black summer” that claimed 33 lives nationwide.
But heavy rains that helped extinguish the blazes that have raged along the east coast since September are causing flash floods in parts of the state, posing new problems for some residents.
“Not all fires are out, there’s still some fire activity in the far south of the state but all fires are contained so we can really focus on helping people rebuild,” the state’s fire service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said on Twitter.
“It is very good news,” a Rural Fire Service spokesman said.
Bushfires scorched more than 10 million hectares in the country’s east and south, killing at least 33 people and an estimated one billion animals, while destroying more than 2,500 homes.
The crisis cloaked major cities including Sydney in smoke for weeks on end, saw towns cut off and prompted the deployment of the military to rescue stranded citizens.
Beleaguered volunteer firefighters have fought the blazes day-in-day-out in what has been described as Australia’s “black summer.”
The fires were exacerbated by prolonged drought and worsened by climate change in the country’s hottest and driest year on record.
Days of recent rainfall have extinguished the largest fires and brought those that remain under control.
In the Australian Capital Territory around Canberra firefighters are still trying to bring one blaze under control, but it was not said to be threatening.
Attention has now turned to tackling flash flooding expected in the coming days following the heaviest rains in 30 years.
On Thursday dams near Sydney overflowed after days of torrential rain, a spectacular reversal from months of drought.
The Nepean dam was just a third full less than a week ago, but on Thursday video footage showing water cascading over the dam wall.
Hundreds of people have been rescued from floodwaters in recent days.
Wild weather is set to ramp up again from Friday, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting ex-Tropical Cyclone Uesi would bring “damaging to destructive winds” and heavy rainfall to remote tourist destination Lord Howe Island.
Senior meteorologist Grace Legge said storms were also expected for Queensland and New South Wales — with areas still recovering from bushfires likely to be hit again.
“Any showers and thunderstorms that do develop are falling on already saturated catchments, so there is a risk with severe thunderstorms of flash flooding,” she said.


Spain’s former king leaving country amid financial scandal

Updated 03 August 2020

Spain’s former king leaving country amid financial scandal

  • The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975
  • Marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favor of his son Felipe VI

MADRID: Spain’s former monarch, King Juan Carlos I, says he is leaving Spain to live in another country amid a financial scandal.
The royal family’s website on Monday published a letter from Juan Carlos to his son, King Felipe VI, saying “I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain.”
Spain’s prime minister recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos — including investigations in Spain and Switzerland — “disturbing.”
The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
But marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favor of his son Felipe VI, losing the inviolability protection Spain’s Constitution grants to the head of state.
The royal house has denied that Felipe had any knowledge of his father’s alleged financial irregularities.