5 Filipinos lose homes, 300 others flee Australia's bushfires: official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2020 12:41 PM | Updated as of Jan 06 2020 12:58 PM

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MANILA - Some 300 Filipinos have been evacuated while 5 others lost their homes due to raging wildfires across Australia, an official said Monday.

Australia is home to around 300,000 Filipinos, of which 75,000 are workers and students, and the rest are permanent migrants, according to Aian Caringal, consul general of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.

While common in Australia during the hot summer, which begins in December, bushfires have begun much earlier this season following a 3-year drought that has left much of the country's bushland tinder-dry and vulnerable to fires. More than 5 million hectares of land have been destroyed.

"Dito naman po 'pag season ng bushfire, they have contingencies in place, 'yung Australia local authorities," Caringal told radio DZMM.

"We just need to coordinate with them. It’s more in coordination with local authorities and Filipino communities."

Caringal urged Filipino migrants to "monitor their surroundings" and protect themselves from heat and smoke.

"The safest places would be to go to the city centers kasi dun wala 'yung puno at grasslands," he said.

"Siguro po exercise caution (on traveling) kasi may times na 'yung smoke and visibility talagang mababa kaya minsan naka-cancel ang flight or hindi maka-land."

Contact details of the Philippine Embassy in Australia and its consulates are available on its website, Caringal told families of Filipino migrants.

The Philippine embassy is ready to repatriate Filipino workers in Australia who may wish to leave because of the calamity, he earlier said.

--With Reuters