UK & World News

  • 9 January 2014, 14:07

Kangaroos 'Fainting' In Australia Heatwave

Bats are said to be dropping from trees and kangaroos collapsing with exhaustion as Australia basks in a record-setting heatwave.

Weather forecasters Down Under say some parts of the sparsely populated Pilbara region along the rugged northwest coast approached 50C (122F) on Thursday.

The overall record high of 50.7C (123.3F) for the country was set in 1960 in Oodnadatta, South Australia state.

It is expected to be broken in the next few days if current conditions continue.

In the last few weeks, records many years old have been broken in northern parts of the massive country.

Since December 27, records have been set at 34 locations across Australia - some by large margins.

In the mining town of Narrabi in New South Wales, the new record of 47.8C (118F) exceeded the previous record by 3.6C (6.5F).

The extreme temperatures come on the heels of Australia's hottest year on record in 2013, beating the previous record year of 2005, with mean temperatures 1.2C (2.2F) above the 1961-90 average.

Western Australia resident Gian Tate, 60, from Emu Creek, in the Pilbara region, said she was spending all day under a fan to cope with the intense heat

"We've just got to live with it; there's nothing you can do," she said.

Karly Braganza, manager of climate monitoring at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, said the late arrival of the monsoon in northern Australia, which has a cooling effect, is contributing to the searing heat.

He said global warming was also playing a role.

In Winton, famous for being one of the hottest spots in Queensland, a "large number" of parrots, kangaroos and emus have recently been found dead.

Tom Upton, chief executive of Winton Shire Council, said: "That's as much to do with the extended dry as it is with the heatwave."

Conservationists say at least 50,000 bats have been killed by the heat in the state's southeast.

Hunters say exhausted kangaroos are staying constantly around waterholes.

Brazil is also sizzling, with the heat reaching 49C (120F). Zookeepers in Rio de Janeiro have been giving animals ice pops to beat the heat.

The southern hemisphere's high temperatures have come as parts of North America have been locked in a deep freeze caused by a "polar vortex'.

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