Rain relieves fire-stricken areas in Australia

The heavy rains provided little relief in some areas devastated by forest fires in Australia, which put the future of 327 protected species of animals and plants at risk.

Officials in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, in the south-east of the country, have warned that today will be marked by severe storms, hail and possible floods and winds.

Heavy rains fell in the East Gippsland region, one of the areas most affected by the fires in Victoria, and rains also hit the south coast and the Snowy Mountains, which have been devastated by flames since New Year’s Eve.

In Canberra, hailstones the size of tennis balls caused damage to vehicles and trees.

Also, in the Blue Mountains, about 100 kilometers west of Sydney, two people were hospitalized after being struck by lightning, although they are in a stable condition.

In the northeastern state of Queensland, strong winds and storms have caused flooding in several areas adjacent to the city of Brisbane, especially in the Gold Coast tourist area.

Falling rains eased the work for firefighters trying to put out the fires that have hit more than 80,000 square kilometers since September and killed at least 29 people.

However, the weather conditions are temporary, as on Thursday an increase in temperature is expected. On Friday, it should rain again.

Forest fires are putting the future of at least 327 protected species of animals and plants at risk, destroying up to 80% of their habitats, according to a report released today by the Australian Government.

Fires in Australia, a country with unique flora and fauna in the world, threaten 272 species of plants, 16 mammals, 14 species of frogs, 9 birds, 7 reptiles, 4 types of insects, 4 varieties of fish and a species of spider, according to a document issued by the Australian Ministry of Environment.

The Ministry also indicated that 31 species, out of 327, were classified as “in critical danger”, another 110 as “in danger” and 186 as “vulnerable”.
Australia is home to a wide variety of unique animals on its mainland, with about 300 native species, including marsupials like kangaroos and koalas, monotremes like platypuses and echidnas and a canid (dingo). Of these, about 244 species or 81% are found only in Australia. This official data is revealed weeks after a group of scientists at the University of Sydney estimated that forest fires would have affected more than a billion animals, including a large number of koalas, which are in danger of extinction on Australia’s east coast.