On Sunday, a global appeal initiated to help Australian firefighters tackling catastrophic bushfires raised almost Aus$25 million, as swathes of the country suffered extensive damage and the death toll from the long-running crisis hit 24.
East coast seaside towns were plunged into darkness, ash rained down on rural communities and major cities were again cloaked in choking smoke, even as stunned Australians tried to regroup amid a wave of cooler air and light rain.
The weekend marked some of the worst days in the country’s deadly bushfire crisis, with hundreds of more properties destroyed and the overall death toll climbing to 24, including a man who died Saturday trying to save a friend’s home.
Comedian Celeste Barber used her international social media fame to launch a Facebook fundraiser for firefighters that almost reached its Aus$25 million ($17 million) target in just two days with donations from all over the globe.
American pop star Pink said she would donate US$500,000 to the firefighters, a donation matched by Australian actress Nicole Kidman.
Around 200 fires continued to burn Sunday, many out of control, although only a handful prompted emergency warnings as temperatures dipped.
Everywhere, millions of beleaguered residents struggled to come to grips with a catastrophe that has taken place on a near-continental scale, unfurled over months and altered daily life.
“We’re in uncharted territory,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. “We can’t pretend that this is something that we have experienced before. It’s not.”