Updated Jan 1, 2020

Australia deploys military as thousands stranded by wildfires

An Australian firefighter hosing down trees and flying embers in an effort to secure nearby houses from bushfires near the town of Nowra in New South Wales. Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

Australia's wildfires have claimed another five lives, several people are missing and thousands of people have continued to shelter from fires on beaches at popular tourist spots in two states, authorities say.

The latest: The Australian Defense Force has deployed extra personnel to the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia to assist in firefighting efforts, the government confirmed in a statement. The government said it's also sending aid fire-ravaged regions via military ships and aircraft.

  • The bodies of three more people were found in fires on New South Wales' South Coast, the NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner told a news conference Wednesday afternoon local time.
  • A man's body was found inside a burnt-out car off a major highway on the South Coast, state police said hours earlier before that announcement.
  • In Victoria, a 67-year-old man was found dead in his East Gippsland home, the Herald Sun reports.

Evacuations: People in Batemans Bay, NSW, have evacuated to the beach to escape bushfires, per 9 News. The town of nearly 16,000 people on the state's south coast attracts some 2 million visitors a year.

  • 4,000 people fled to the beach at the East Gippsland town of Mallacoota in Victoria after evacuating there, fire authorities say.

The victims: The death toll from the wildfires now stands at 17 following several days of intense conditions amid searing heat in Australia's southeast.

The big picture: The Australian Defense Force has been assisting with firefighting efforts in the states of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia since Nov. 8, the government says.

  • Australia's wildfires are so intense, smoke from the blazes has traveled over 1,200 miles to blanket parts of New Zealand's South Island.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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