UK & World News
Australian PM Hits Out At UN Amid New Infernos
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied that devastating bushfires in Australia are linked to climate change as firefighters continue to battle flames.
Mr Abbott accused the United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres of "talking through her hat" after she said there was "absolutely" a connection between bushfires and rising temperatures.
Mr Abbott told an Australian radio station: "These fires are certainly not a function of climate change - they're just a function of life in Australia."
At least 65 fires have spread across the state of New South Wales (NSW) with 18 of them uncontained as warnings were issued for people to leave their homes or be extra vigilant.
In Springwood, where more than 100 homes were lost last week, one inferno has been upgraded to the highest "emergency" level.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: "On days like today minutes really matter, with the focus again on the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney, a popular tourist area home to 75,000 people where three huge infernos have been burning for days."
Fires also broke out at Minmi near Newcastle, north of Sydney, which was deemed an "emergency" as it closed the main freeway that links the two cities and sparked traffic chaos.
"If you are in Minmi, follow your survival plan. If your plan is to leave, leave now," the fire service said.
Another blaze at Colo, northwest of Sydney, was burning aggressively with water-bombing aircraft attempting to bring it under control, although the high winds were hampering the effort.
So far more than 120,000 hectares (296,500 acres) of land has been burned across the state and more than 200 homes destroyed.
But only one person has died as residents heed advice to either flee or head to evacuation centres.
Temperatures were in the mid-30C range on Wednesday. The heat, combined with low humidity and expected winds of up to 100km (62 miles) per hour, has led to conditions described as "as bad as it gets" by the fire service.