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Australia fights bushfires in west, floods in east

(AFP)

Australia battled twin natural disasters Friday, with bushfires cutting through a picturesque west coast region, while serious flooding and heavy rains lashed the country’s east.

After weeks of high temperatures, fires flanked the western tourist hotspot of Margaret River — famed for its fine wine and big surf.

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No homes have been damaged or injuries reported, but flames have been seen over a wide area, sending smoke billowing high into the sky.

Emergency warnings are in effect, and some residents have been told to flee to safety or shelter in place.

“Act immediately to survive,” the state’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services said.

While Australia’s Indian Ocean coast has sizzled under temperatures that have reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), on the other side of the continent its Pacific Coast has been pummelled by rain for months.

“A low pressure centre has formed off the southern New South Wales coast bringing heavy rainfall and major flooding,” the Bureau of Meteorology said. 

Some rural regions south of Sydney — engulfed in the country’s worst-ever bushfires exactly two years ago — have received 21 centimetres (eight inches) of rain in the last 24 hours alone.

November was the wettest in 122 years of records and among the coolest, as a La Nina weather phenomenon took hold.

Scientists believe Australia’s extreme weather has been made worse by man-made climate change.

In recent years the continent has experienced a litany of climate-worsened droughts, bushfires and floods.

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