Around 300 Filipinos had to be evacuated from their homes and relocated to temporary shelters in the Australian state of Victoria as bushfires ravage the area, an official of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra said on Sunday.
Australia has been battling wildfires across its eastern coast for months, with the disaster scorching some six million hectares of land and destroying almost 1,300 homes in New South Wales alone. High temperatures, strong winds, and severe drought have fueled the fires, which first broke out in September, the BBC reports.
“The 300 Filipinos are already being attended to by the local government, and have been given temporary housing and been given emergency relief,” Aian Caringal, consul general of the Philippine Embassy, told ANC in an interview.
At least 24 people have been killed by the wildfires, but Caringal confirmed that none of the casualties were Filipino, although two Filipinos’ homes have reportedly been destroyed.
He added that there are around 300,000 Filipinos living in Australia. Caringal said the embassy has yet to receive a request for repatriation, but guarantees that they are ready to assist Filipino workers looking to return home because of the devastation.
“If there would be any request, we are ready to attend to the request and repatriate our kababayan [countrymen] as soon as possible,” he said.
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