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Easing conditions help Australian fire crews

Easing conditions Sunday helped Australian fire crews battling major wildfires that destroyed 25 homes in the nation's southeast following a week-long heatwave, with warnings of a long and dangerous season ahead. Firefighters in South Australia and Victoria states said they had gained the upper hand over a series of blazes which started this week during a scorching heatwave that brought temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for several consecutive days.

Australia fire chief says 'worst behind us'

The worst of the bushfires in Australia's state of Victoria appeared to be over Saturday, officials said, as firefighters battling the blazes welcomed cooler conditions after days of extreme heat. Four homes were lost in a fire in the Grampians region, in western Victoria, where a massive 52,000-hectare blaze had threatened townships and prompted the evacuation of holiday spots. Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the fires across the state, most of which were sparked by lightning, had burned through 100,000 hectares and 34 blazes were still burning.

Australian fires turn deadly as heatwave scorches

Skies over southeastern Australia darkened with huge plumes of smoke and lightning storms Friday after an epic heatwave, with raging wildfires claiming one life and residents warned to "leave and live". A cool change began sweeping the states of South Australia and Victoria as evening fell, bringing much-needed relief to millions of residents who have sweltered through up to five days of scorching temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Australian fires turn deadly as heatwave scorches

Skies over southeastern Australia darkened with huge plumes of smoke and lightning storms Friday after an epic heatwave, with raging wildfires claiming one life and residents warned to "leave and live". A cool change began sweeping the states of South Australia and Victoria as evening fell, bringing much-needed relief to millions of residents who have sweltered through up to five days of scorching temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Hundreds flee homes as heatwave fans Australia bushfires

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Extreme heat and high winds fanned dozens of bushfires across Australia on Friday, prompting hundreds to flee their homes in some of the worst conditions seen since Black Saturday in 2009. One person died in the Grampians bushland in the southeastern state of Victoria, about 300 km (186 miles) west of Melbourne, where bushfires are burning out of control amid temperatures which have hit above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees F), destroying or damaging houses.

Australian fires turn deadly as heatwave scorches

One person died and officials warned that more lives could be lost as major bushfires raged across southeastern Australia Friday in heatwave conditions, with residents urged to heed warnings to "leave and live". Police said the body was found in a house at Roses Gap in the the Grampians National Park west of Melbourne, currently sweltering through a major heatwave this week. "Sadly, we've lost one person at Roses Gap. Police located the body of a person earlier this morning... in a house," said police commissioner Ken Lay. "The death appears to be fire related."

Australian fires turn deadly as heatwave scorches

One person died and officials warned that more lives could be lost as major bushfires raged across southeastern Australia Friday in heatwave conditions, with residents urged to heed warnings of "leave and live". Police said the body was found in a house at Roses Gap in the the Grampians National Park west of Melbourne, currently sweltering through a major heatwave this week. "Sadly, we've lost one person at Roses Gap. Police located the body of a person earlier this morning... in a house," said police commissioner Ken Lay. "The death appears to be fire related."

Rio Tinto hits iron ore output, shipment records

Mining giant Rio Tinto unveiled fresh production and shipment records for its flagship iron ore business Thursday, with both up five percent on-year in 2013. Anglo-Australian Rio said iron ore shipments were up six percent quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of 2013 and production was three percent higher, boosting annual readings for both by five percent compared with 2012. Iron ore output for 2013 was 266 million tonnes, one million tonnes ahead of guidance despite a cyclone forcing operations to shut down for several days in December.

Australia turns asylum boat back to Indonesia

The Australian navy has turned an asylum-seeker boat back to Indonesia without first informing authorities there, Indonesian police said Tuesday, prompting fresh anger in Jakarta about Canberra's tough boatpeople policies. It is the first reported instance in which the new Australian government has turned a boat back without Indonesian cooperation, and has added to recent tensions between Jakarta and Canberra over a spying row. Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa stressed Indonesia's "rejection" of Australia's tough border policies following the incident.

Australia turns asylum boat back to Indonesia

The Australian navy has turned an asylum-seeker boat back to Indonesia without first informing authorities there, Indonesian police said Tuesday, as part of Canberra's hardline border policies that have angered Jakarta. It is the first reported instance in which the new Australian government has turned a boat back without Indonesian cooperation, and could add to recent tensions between Jakarta and Canberra sparked by a spying row.
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