Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought have fuelled a series of massive bushfires across Australia.
The fires, burning since September, have intensified over the past week, with a number towns evacuated. High temperatures and strong winds are forecast for the weekend, creating further fire risk.
Twenty people have so far been killed – including three volunteer firefighters – and about six million hectares (60,000 sq km or 14.8 million acres) of bush, forest and parks have been burned.
New South Wales has been worst affected
In the worst-hit state, New South Wales (NSW), fire has affected more than four million hectares, destroying more than 1,300 houses and forcing thousands to seek shelter elsewhere.
Hot, dry weather combined with prolonged drought and strong winds have created perfect conditions for fire to spread rapidly.
More than 130 fires were burning across the state on Friday, in the bush, mountain forests and national parks, with about 60 still not contained by firefighters and posing a risk to lives.