Australia PM cancels India trip over bushfire crisis

Australia PM cancels India trip over bushfire crisis

Canberra, Jan 4 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cancelled an official visit to India amid the ongoing bushfire crisis in his country that has so far killed at least 20 people and has destroyed thousands of acres of land.

Morrison on Friday called his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the phone to inform him about the cancellation of his four-day trip which was to begin from January 13, Xinhua news agency quoted sources as saying.

Morrison has called an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Saturday to discuss escalating the military response to bushfires, which were expected to be exacerbated by catastrophic weather conditions.

“The role of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will become greater and greater in the days ahead, particularly when the things they do, the airlifting, the evacuations, the engineering support, the ­accommodation, the evacuation centres,” Morrison told the media here on Friday.

“All of this (will) become more and more required as these fires get larger and larger.”

When asked if he has requested additional firefighting support from overseas, Morrison said “of course”.

Temperatures across Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), the two states that have been hardest-hit by the fires in recent days, were expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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