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Australia

Australia battles wildfires

Reuters/FESA Western Australia

At least 59 buildings have been destroyed by wildfires in Perth, officials said Monday. A natural disaster has been declared in areas of the west coast, where two major fires are burning for the second day.

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Hundreds of hectares of forest have been burnt. Another 28 buildings have sustained partial damage.

A bridge over the Canning River collapsed in the flames and will be impassable for at least three weeks.

The fire was triggered by heat and high winds brought by last week's Cyclone Yasi.

On Thursday, Yasi damaged hundreds of homes and crops worth at least 370 million euros.

Reconstruction chief Major-General Mick Slater said that lives had been "absolutely destroyed" by the storm, warning that recovery would be protracted and difficult.

"We can rebuild the roads and the bridges and the schools and the like, but what is going to take a long time is for people to rebuild their lives," he told public radio.

Australia's extreme weather has been linked to an extremely strong La Nina climate pattern, usually characterised by increased flooding and cyclones for the vast southern continent.

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