Thousands of firefighters in Australia are continuing to battle dozens of wildfires raging in New South Wales as weather conditions are set to worsen. The country's rural fire service chief has warned "the worst of the weather is still to come."
Firefighters battling wildfires in Australia have taken to 'water-bombing' woodland to halt the blaze, scooping up water from nearby rivers and dropping it on affected areas.
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Their main attention is focused on the widespread fires burning in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, but blazes are also threatening towns in the Southern Highlands, including the small town of Balmoral.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is concerned that continued north-westerly winds may give the fire greater strength and help it breach their containment measures.
There were also warnings of looting in areas affected by fires, but police have warned of strong penalties for anyone caught.
Authorities are expecting the worst as 68 wildfires continue to burn in Australia - 22 of them out of control - and dangerous weather conditions forecast through Thursday.
"There will be a significant impact on populated areas should all these forecasts materialise as is being suggested," Shane Fitzsimmons, New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner, told reporters.
New South Wales state Premier has said the state is facing challenging days ahead as wildfires continue to rage in Australia. Barry O'Farrell told reporters that "the weather is not going to be as good as it had been previously anticipated".
Firefighters battling some of the most destructive wildfires to ever strike Australia's most populous state were bracing Sunday for worsening conditions, with higher temperatures and winds expected to intensify the danger in the coming days.
In the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, one of the worst-hit regions in fire-ravaged New South Wales state, more than 200 homes have been destroyed.
The Queen has sent a personal message to the Governor of New South Wales, expressing her sympathy as the Australian state battles raging wildfires.
Almost 200 homes have been destroyed in the worst hit region - the Blue Mountains west of Sydney - and another 109 have been damaged by fire.
The Queen told NSW Governor Marie Bashir today: "I would like to convey my heartfelt sympathies to all those who have been affected by the devastating bushfires across New South Wales.
"My thoughts are with the many people who have lost their homes or livelihoods in the fires and I have the greatest admiration for the firefighters, volunteers and emergency services officers who are working tirelessly to control the situation."