Three people have died, four are missing and at least 150 homes have been destroyed as bushfires rage across eastern Australia, authorities said on Saturday, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) confirmed two people had been killed by a fire near Glen Innes, more than 550 km (340 miles) north of Sydney.
One body was discovered in a vehicle and a woman died after being found suffering from burns on Friday.
NSW police said a body was found in a burnt-out home north of Taree, a town about 300 km (185 miles) north of Sydney. Police said the home belonged to a 63-year old woman, but a post-mortem was needed to confirm the identity of the victim and cause of death.
At least four other people remain unaccounted for on Saturday evening, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying on Saturday afternoon, before the third death was confirmed, he feared the number of deaths could rise.
“These fires have already claimed two lives ... and as we get access to further areas that have been cut off we are expecting worse news again,” Morrison said during a televised news conference in Sydney.
Morrison said reserve members of Australia’s armed forces may be used to assist emergency services and that support payments were being made available for those directly affected by fires.
This is one of Australia’s worst bushfire seasons and it is occurring even before the start of the Southern Hemisphere summer, with parts of the country already crippled by severe drought.