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Fire continues to devastate Australia

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The Australian navy on Friday began evacuating around 1,000 people stranded on the east coast of the fire-ravaged country as a searing weather front was set to whip up more blazes across the states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW).

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At the peak of the summer holiday period, tens of thousands of holidaymakers have been urged to leave national parks and tourist areas on the NSW south coast and eastern areas of Victoria before a return of temperatures above 40C (104 F) and hot winds on Saturday.

Victoria declared a state of disaster for the first time, giving authorities broad powers to compel people to leave their properties and take control of services, similar to the state of emergency that has been declared in NSW.

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