Thousands of people are fleeing a vast “tourist leave zone” in Australia amid forecasts of ferocious bushfire conditions in coming days.
Since September, Australia’s bushfire crisis has killed 18 people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes.
At least 17 people remain missing after fires tore through Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) this week.
The latest evacuations on the NSW south coast have been called “the largest relocation out of the region ever”.
On Thursday, long lines of cars clogged highways leading back to Sydney and Canberra. Many were filled those who had abruptly aborted holidays.
Local media reported hour-long queues for petrol in the town of Batemans Bay, while fuel was being trucked in to the region to offset dwindling supplies.
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Many roads remained closed due to continuing fires and other dangers, such as unstable or fallen trees.
Though conditions have eased slightly, officials fear a dangerous forecast for Saturday will once again threaten lives and homes.
“If you are holidaying… you need to leave before this Saturday,” the NSW Rural Fire Service said, referring to a 260km (160 miles) stretch of coast.