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Thousands flee beach towns after prime minister proclaims Australia ‘wonderful place to come’


Hot, windy weather swept back into southeastern Australia on Thursday, whipping historic bushfires and prompting authorities to urge evacuation of several coastal towns.

The evacuation order came hours after Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged foreign tourists, normally now flocking to the beaches in Australia’s summer, not to be put off by the historic fires.

“Australia is open, Australia is still a wonderful place to come and bring your family and enjoy your holidays,” Morrison said. 

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews warned that temperatures were expected to spike Friday and that spot fires could break out. Conditions, he said, are likely to change unpredictably. The Bureau of Meteorology issued an “extreme” fire danger forecast for the north of the state on Friday.

“That’s why we’re again asking people in high-risk areas to leave ahead of time,” Andrews said. “I can’t stress this point enough. The fewer people we have there, the better for everyone.”