Bushfire emergency declared in NSW, Australia

Charred countryside near Sydney, NSW, 21 Oct 2013 (Twitter)

Charred countryside near Sydney, NSW, 21 Oct 2013 (Twitter)

More than 60 bushfires burning in Australia’s most populous state have prompted officials to declare a state of emergency.

At least 3,000 firefighters and nearly 100 aircraft are battling the blazes in New South Wales under catastrophic conditions including high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds gusting up to 100 km/h.

Many communities have been evacuated in the Blue Mountains region, west of Sydney, where over 200 homes have been destroyed by the bushfires.

Heavy smoke has been drifting into Sydney and its suburbs since last week.

In an effort to contain the blazes and prevent them from spreading, firefighters have been lighting controlled fires.

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