Australia bushfires death toll reaches 28

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Sydney, Jan 15 (IANS) The death toll in the bushfires ravaging Australia since September has officially reached 28 as the authorities in the southeastern state of Victoria confirmed Wednesday the death of one more person.

The latest victim was David Moresi, 69, a contracted firefighter who died as the excavator he was driving overturned while he was working to contain a fire in East Gippsland, the most affected area in the state, reported Efe news.

Coinciding with his funeral, the state authorities Wednesday confirmed to the press that Moresi’s name would be added to the official list of victims from Victoria.

Rain and cooler temperatures in recent days have helped firefighters contain the dozens of active blazes in Victoria and New South Wales, the most-affected state, where 20 casualties have been recorded.

The weather office in Victoria has forecast intense storms in much of the state for Wednesday, which would also help dissipate the thick layer of smoke engulfing Melbourne.

Pollution affected the Australian Open tennis competition in Melbourne on Tuesday, forcing Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic to retire. In addition, outdoor pools were closed and a scheduled horse race was suspended.

Since September, the blazes have destroyed more than 80,000 square kilometers, an area larger than Ireland or Panama, charring more than 2,000 houses



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