Australian bushfires: Social media fundraisers pledge millions to help

Donations from around the world are flooding in to help support firefighters, wildlife rescuers and victims of Australia's bushfire crisis.

Australian comedian and Instagram star Celeste Barber has raised millions of pounds to support the volunteer-based NSW Rural Fire Fighting Service, who are battling the flames in Australia's worst-affected state.

As of midday Tuesday - in just five days - more than £23 million had been donated by more than a million people via a fundraising page she set up.

Australian comedian Celeste Barber. Credit: PA

Celebrities have also joined in the fundraising effort, with Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie,Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Pink, among those pledging millions between them to help.

Chris Hemsworth and Margot Robbie both took to social media to announce their donations and asked their fans to join in. Hemsworth pledged to give $1 million AU (£520,000).

Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios said he would donate £100 for every ace he hit across all his summer matches, and world number one Ash Barty said she'd donate all her winnings from an upcoming tournament - potentially £150,000 - to the disaster relief.

Actor and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, while accepting her award on the Golden Globes stage on Sunday night, said she would auction off the dress she appeared in and donate the earnings.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge at the Golden Globes on Sunday Credit: AP

The Australian Red Cross has reportedly raised more than £5 million in donations to assist the victims of the bushfires, including an emergency grant of £2,500 to those who have lost their homes.

Another Facebook fundraiser hosted by wildlife rescue charity WIRES had raised £5 million in funds to help animals affected by the fires.

A koala being nursed back to health after it was injured in Australia's bushfires Credit: AP

More than 2,000 homes have been destroyed by bushfires that have raged since September last year, affecting an area the size of Wales.

The bulk of the firefighting effort has been supplied by volunteer firefighters, some of whom are on unemployment benefits.

The Australian government has launched a compensation scheme to help off-set the loss of earnings the volunteers face after spending time away from their job to help fight the fire.

A fire fighter at the scene of a bushfire in Australia. Credit: AP

The government has also pledged £1 billion to a National Bushfire Recovery Fund to help relief and rebuilding efforts.

Some much-needed rain and cooler temperatures eased conditions across the country yesterday, but forecasts predict a return to dangerous hot temperatures later this week.

More than 135 fires are still burning across New South Wales (NSW), the country's most populous state, and about 70 are uncontained.

The NSW fires seen from space. Credit: NASA

At least 200 millimetres (8 inches) of rain would need to fall over a short period of time in order to snuff out the fires - around 20 times what has fallen across the region in the past day.

Officials say the fires have been fuelled by Australia's hottest and driest year on record, and the wildlife season will likely continue until March.