The first Mallacoota evacuees arrive in Melbourne

The first of thousands of people who had fled the fire from the Australian coastal town of Mallacoota arrived in Melbourne after a trip with a navy ship. They spent almost twenty hours at sea.

Around 4,000 people fled to the beach on Monday evening when forest fires partially destroyed the village and blocked escape routes. Because of the smoke it was difficult to evacuate people with helicopters. That is why the navy was called in.

The forest fires have killed 21 people since September. In addition, more than five million hectares of land were destroyed by the fires.

Children, the elderly and dogs

On the first ship that has now reached Melbourne, there were 58 evacuees. Among them many parents with small children, the elderly, dogs and people with asthma.

A much larger ship with around a thousand people on board is expected later today. Buses are available in the port of Melbourne to transport the flights to a reception location.

Mallacoota is still unreachable by land. The authorities expect that it may take weeks before the access road to the town can be opened again.

Reservists called

The Australian government has called on 3,000 reservists to help fight the wildfires. It is the largest call from reservists ever in Australia.

“The decision brings more people, more airplanes in the air and more ships at sea,” says Prime Minister Morrison.

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