Published: Thu, January 23, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Water-bombing plane missing as Australia bush fires flare

Water-bombing plane missing as Australia bush fires flare

An estimated 1 billion animals have also perished, while the fires have incinerated 2,500 homes and a total area of bushland one-third the size of Germany.

In a statement, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said "contact had been lost with a Large Air Tanker which was working in the Snowy Monaro area".

The body assumes that the aircraft suffered a crash.

Firefighters battle the Morton Fire as it consumes a home near Bundanoon, New South Wales, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.

The wreckage of the missing air tanker that crashed while fighting fires in NSW has been found by search crews.

In some places, the fires have become so furious that it is nearly impossible to put them down from the air.

Flight tracking website Flightradar24 showed the flight path for a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, an air tanker used in waterbombing operations, suddenly stopping south of Canberra.

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Both blazes are spreading quickly and are burning out of control.

Several ambulances and a helicopter were at the scene of the suspected crash, an emergency services source said.

The Boeing 737 planes, which typically have two pilots on board, can carry more than 15,000 litres of water or fire retardant and are used to support ground crews in their firefighting efforts.

"We saw a lot of smoke all of a sudden a couple of hours ago", she told Reuters by telephone.

"No further information is available at this time", the RFS said.

Some residents of Australia's capital Canberra were evacuated briefly on Wednesday after a bushfire broke out near the airport as searing hot weather ended a few days of respite and the number of out-of-control blazes surged in the southeast of the country.

Residents and businesses near fires were told it was too late to leave as thick plumes of dark smoke smothered the neighbouring suburbs.

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