Australia fires: Death toll rises as fires sweep across three states

One person has died and another is missing as wildfires continue to burn across three Australian states.

In New South Wales, sudden southerly winds fanned the flames of more than 100 blazes and fire officials said a man who had chosen to stay at his property could no longer be contacted.

Saturday had been an “awful day”, NSW fire chief Shane Fitzsimmons said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cut short a holiday in Hawaii after being criticised for leaving amid the crisis.

Earlier acting prime minister Michael McCormack conceded that more had to be done to tackle global warming, after many Australians linked the severity of this year’s fires to climate change.

Since September, Australia’s bushfire emergency has killed at least nine people, destroyed more than 700 houses and scorched millions of hectares.

What happened on Saturday?
Rising temperatures and strong winds worsened fires in three states.

In South Australia one person was found dead, another was critically injured and 15 homes had been destroyed about 40km (25 miles) east of the state capital of Adelaide.

In New South Wales a man was missing in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney after towns in the area were hit by an ember attack – when burning vegetation is blown ahead of the main blaze and starts new fires.

However the southerly winds later eased and by Saturday evening six fires in the state were deemed to be at emergency level – the second highest level of danger after catastrophic – including two near Sydney.

In Canberra a cricket match was called off because of poor air quality resulting from smoke from the fires.