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Heatwaves test southern Australia

By Richard van der Draay     Jan 30, 2009 in Environment
The worst heatwave to occur in several decades is causing havoc in south-eastern Australia with temperatures exceeding 43 degrees Celsius.
According to health officials in South Australia the heat has caused an increase in the number of deaths amongst elderly residents.
In Victoria, bush fires have destroyed more than 10 homes. Nearly half a million people in the state have lost their power supply after intense pressure on the power grid.
In Melbourne, an explosion was reported at a substation. The head of Victoria state, John Brumby, said that it is an extreme week and that the system is not designed to cope with temperatures of 46C.
Long delays and cancelled train services are making matters worse for commuters.
The Victoria heatwave is thought to be the region’s worst since 1908.
Bushfires have destroyed two thousand hectares of forest and grassland. Residents were forced to flee their homes.
The heatwave is expected to last several days, after which the high pressure area will slowly move away to the south. This, in turn, will draw cooler and moister air in from the Pacific.
Average temperatures in Melbourne at this time of year are around 25.8C.
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