Navy Begins Evacuating Stranded Tourists And Locals From Bushfire Ravaged Mallacoota
The Australian Royal Navy has begun evacuating the first batch of people from bushfire ravaged Mallacoota.
Thousands of people fled for their lives to the small shoreline on New Year's Eve in Victoria's East Gippsland area as the bushfire edged closer to their community.
Two people have been confirmed dead in that blaze and there are 28 people who remain unaccounted for in the state.
It's been an agonising wait for everyone affected however the Navy was given the go-ahead this morning to extricate hundreds of the most vulnerable people.
It will take around 20 hours for the HMAS Choules to travel from Mallacoota to Western Port in southern Victoria.
Officials have already told people that this mission will not run quickly and they will need to be patient.
Lieutenant Commander Arron Convery, the Executive Officer of HMAS Choules, said: "Once people are onboard our mission is to give them a safe haven. They will be well looked after.
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"This is very different but we are trained for this scenario. The main response we are getting from people has been gratitude. There has been a lot of emotion and hugs."
It will be a much more nervous wait for those who remain stranded on the beach after the Country Fire Authority said the bushfire situation is expected to intensify over the next few days, with the temperature tipped to go above 40C degrees.
Officials are keen to get as many people out of the area as possible over the next few hours to ensure that no one is threatened by the bushfire.
The HMAS Choules arrived yesterday and delivered some much needed supplies like water to the people who had spent the last few days sitting and waiting for help.
Two ships are waiting off the coast, according to the Herald Sun, and this scale of evacuation is unprecedented in the state of Victoria.
Featured Image Credit: Royal Australian Navy