Australia fire costs mount

World News

January 7, 2020 - 10:00 AM

BALMORAL, Australia (AP) — Bolstered by cooler weather and desperately needed rain, exhausted firefighters in Australia raced to shore up defenses against deadly wildfires before the blazes flare again within days when scorching temperatures are expected to return.

The first hints of the financial toll from the disaster began to emerge today. The Insurance Council of Australia said the estimated damage bill had doubled in two days, with insurance claims reaching $485 million.

That estimate comes one day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was committing an extra $1.4 billion toward the recovery effort in addition to the tens of millions of dollars that have already been promised. Morrison’s funding announcement came amid fierce criticism from many Australians who say he has been too slow to respond to the crisis. He has also faced backlash for downplaying the need for his government to address climate change, which experts say helps supercharge the blazes.

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