UK & World News
Australia Bushfires Rage Across Tasmania
Australia's prime minister has promised help to dozens of people who have been made homeless by a series of bushfires sweeping the south of the country.
Hundreds of residents have been forced to leave their homes in the island state of Tasmania, with fires breaking out across the region amid blistering temperatures and high winds.
Around 80 buildings have been destroyed in and around the small town of Dunalley, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, including the town's school, police station and bakery.
Officials are investigating reports that one person has been killed in the blaze, but there have been no confirmed deaths or injuries from the fire.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: "For those who have lost their homes - a devastating experience, and we will be working with them, as will the state government to support people through.
"There are media reports that a life has been lost - I'm not in a position to confirm that, but bushfires are very dangerous things," she added.
The heatwave sent the temperature in Hobart soaring to a record high of nearly 42C on Friday.
Conditions had eased across much of the region on Saturday, but fire officials warned that the danger from some of the fires remained high.
"We reached catastrophic fire danger ratings at times," Tasmania fire service chief officer Mike Brown said.
Bushfires are common seasonal hazard during the Australian summer.
In February 2009, hundreds of fires across the state of Victoria killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.