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Biden signs orders on migrant family separations and asylum

US President Joe Biden has signed three executive orders seeking to reunite migrant families split up by a Trump-era policy and to order a review of his predecessor's wider immigration agenda. A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the US-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas (file image). Photo: AFP In an attempt to deter illegal immigration, President Donald Trump's administration split up undocumented adults from children as they crossed the US-Mexico border. Biden's orders will set up a task force to try to reunite the estimated 600-700 children who are still separated from their families. The Trump administration split up at least 5500 children from adults along the border between 2017-18. The administration of US President Barack Obama - whom Biden served as vice-president - also separated undocumented children from adults at the border, though they are thought to have happened rarely. One of Biden's orders will set up an inter-agency task force - led by the newly confirmed Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas - to oversee family reunifications. Biden's second and third orders signed on Tuesday order a review of Trump's immigration policies that curtailed asylum, slowed legal immigration into the US, and cancelled funding to foreign countries. At Tuesday's White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was committed to building a "moral" and "humane" immigration system, but until that happened, now was "not the time to come to the United States". How did family separations come about? Under a "zero-tolerance" immigration policy publicly adopted in April 2018, adult undocumented migrants crossing the US-Mexico border were criminally charged and jailed. These offences had previously been treated as civil violations. Because the children of prosecuted migrants could not legally be charged with any crime, they were not permitted to be jailed with their parents, which led to the youngsters being placed in shelters or foster care. Images and videos of children on sleeping mats in crowded detention facilities sparked a nationwide furore, leading Trump to halt the policy that June. Last week, the Biden justice department formally revoked the dormant policy. However, the chain-link enclosures where some of the children were detained were built during the Obama presidency. Some 60,000 unaccompanied minors stopped at the southern border were detained in these cells during one summer alone back in 2014. Obama-era officials have said migrant family separations only happened rarely during his presidency, for example, in cases where there was reason to suspect trafficking, though the exact numbers are unclear. Obama's top immigration adviser Cecilia Munoz - who in 2011 defended the migrant family separations as the inevitable result of a "broken system" - served on Biden's presidential transition team. - BBC
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Perth Hills fire: 'Still a long way to go' in fighting blaze

Authorities in Western Australia say 71 homes are now known to have been destroyed in the bushfire emergency east of Perth. Hundreds of firefighters have been battling the blaze since Monday. Photo: DFES Western Australia / Incident Photographer Evan Collis Hundreds of people have spent the night in evacuation centres and an emergency warning remains in place for the out-of-control blaze, which started in Wooroloo on Monday and is continuing to threaten lives and homes. WA's Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said no properties were impacted overnight, but assessment teams had confirmed the number of properties lost had increased to 71, and they were still working through the fire zone. But crews are expecting conditions to worsen today. Klemm said they were concerned about the impact of high winds forecast for this afternoon, with wind gusts of 70 kilometres per hour. The Commissioner said there were "challenging times ahead" and "still a long way to go with this fire". He said people in the Shady Hills Estate, and on the outskirts of Bullsbrook, should have their bushfire plans in place. "There is particular concern today for later this afternoon for the area of Shady Hills Estate, we're going to see gusts of up to 70 kilometres an hour in that north-west corner of the fire," Mr Klemm said. He said there was no evidence of any lives having being lost at this stage. The massive fire has burned through more than 9400 hectares of land so far, with more than 200 firefighters battling the blaze on Wednesday. The emergency warning covers parts of The Vines, Bailup, Ellenbrook, Gidgegannup, Millendon, Walynga National Park, Upper Swan, Aveley, Henley Brook, Avon Valley National Park, Red Hill, Belhus, Baskerville, Herne Hill, Bullsbrook, Wooroloo and Brigadoon, in the shires of Mundaring, Chittering and Northam and the City of Swan. The fire is currently moving in a south-westerly direction. Three evacuation centres have been set up, at the Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View, Swan Active in Midland and Swan Active in Beechboro. Perth is in the middle of a five-day coronavirus lockdown, which began on Sunday evening. Klemm said people needed to be decisive with their evacuation plans and follow crew instructions, even if they were in lockdown due to Covid-19. - ABC
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Jeff Bezos to step down as Amazon CEO

Amazon.com Inc has beaten estimates for holiday-quarter sales and says Jeff Bezos would move to the role of executive chair in the third quarter and be replaced by Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy as chief executive officer. Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO of Amazon. Photo: AFP Net sales rose to $125.56 billion in the fourth quarter ended 31 December from $87.44 billion, beating estimates of $119.7 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Amazon was forced to move its two-day shopping event Prime Day, typically in July, to early October, contributing to its holiday sales numbers. More to come... - Reuters
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Tokelau officials taking no chances with Covid-19

Covid-free Tokelau is the only Pacific Realm nation of New Zealand not in talks with the country about a possible one-way travel bubble. Atafu, Tokelau Photo: RNZ PACIFIC / MACKENZIE SMITH The Cook Islands one-way travel free bubble is already in place with New Zealand, and talks are under way for a similar scheme with Niue. That is not the case, however, for Tokelau, the most remote Realm territory. Instead, the pandemic has brought heightened isolation and uncertainty to the New Zealand territory, which is reachable only by boat from Samoa. While there are no cases of Covid-19 in Tokelau, two confirmed cases caught in managed isolation by its nearest neighbour Samoa caused widespread alarm. "We are hearing that there are new variants, and that's why people are a bit worried," said Kelihiano Kalolo, the faipule, or leader, of Tokelau's Atafu atoll. He added that people were advised to avoid unnecessary travel to Tokelau, which has been operating a two-week isolation period. Kelihiano Kalolo, Faipule Atafu. Photo: Supplied. Despite Tokelau's relative isolation, local officials are taking no chances with Covid-19. Several isolation centres are being built across the three atolls in preparation for any suspected or confirmed cases, Kalolo said. On Atafu they have had to get creative: an old hotel has been repurposed, and the school building has been renovated in case it's needed for an overflow of patients. Isolating on the thin, beach-laden rings of land that make up Tokelau's atolls is a unique challenge. In some cases, designated isolation centres sit just 200 metres from the main villages. Locals on Atafu have constructed temporary shelters on outer islets in case the population needs to spread out. Kalolo said one clear lesson from the pandemic is the need for an airstrip in Tokelau. "For medical purposes, yes, it is a must. If we have a pandemic, we depend very much on our two boats, the Kalopaga and the Mataliki, but it would have been better if we had an airstrip," he said. Kalolo added that travel restrictions in Samoa had slowed the flow of goods and building materials to Tokelau. New Zealand agreed to help fund an airstrip in 2019, but Kalolo said it had not been discussed by Tokelau's government since the start of the pandemic. The project is slated to be built in Nukunonu, Tokelau's largest atoll. A spokesperson for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said potential airfield sites had been scouted out by the Defence Force. They added that New Zealand had provided $4.26 million to Tokelau in budgetary and other support to assist with its Covid-19 response. Kalolo said a drafted vote in independence from New Zealand, still to go before Tokelau's parliament, has also been put on ice until the pandemic passes.
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Covid-19: Russia's Sputnik V vaccine '91.6 percent effective'

Scientists have given Russia's Sputnik V vaccine the green light saying it was almost 92 percent effective in fighting Covid-19 based on peer-reviewed late-stage trial results published in The Lancet international medical journal. A health worker giving the Sputnik V vaccine in Moscow. Photo: AFP The results, collated by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow that developed and tested the vaccine, were in line with efficacy data reported at earlier stages of the trial, which has been running in Moscow since September. "The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticised for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency," said Ian Jones, professor at the University of Reading, and Polly Roy, professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated," the scientists, who were not involved in the study, said in a comment shared by The Lancet. "Another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of Covid-19." The results were based on data from 19,866 volunteers, of whom a quarter received a placebo, the researchers, led by the Gamaleya Institute's Denis Logunov, said in The Lancet. Since the trial began in Moscow, there were 16 recorded cases of symptomatic Covid-19 among people who received the vaccine, and 62 among the placebo group, the scientists said. This showed that a two-dose regimen of the vaccine - two shots based on two different viral vectors, administered 21 days apart - was 91.6 percent effective against symptomatic Covid-19. The Sputnik V vaccine is the fourth worldwide to have Phase III results published in leading peer-reviewed medical journals following the shots developed by Pfizer and BioNTech , Moderna and AstraZeneca. Pfizer's shot had the highest efficacy rate at 95 percent closely followed by Moderna's vaccine and Sputnik V while AstraZeneca's vaccine had an average efficacy of 70 percent. Sputnik V has also now been approved for storage in normal fridges, as opposed to freezers, making transportation and distribution easier, Gamaleya scientists said on Tuesday. Russia approved the vaccine in August, before the large-scale trial had begun, saying it was the first country to do so for a Covid-19 shot. It named it Sputnik V, in homage to the world's first satellite, launched by the Soviet Union. Small numbers of frontline health workers began receiving it soon after and a large-scale roll out started in December, though access was limited to those in specific professions, such as teachers, medical workers and journalists. In January, the vaccine was offered to all Russians. "Russia was right all along," Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, told reporters on Tuesday. He said the results supported Russia's decision to begin administering Sputnik V to frontline workers while the trial was still underway, and suggested scepticism of such moves was politically motivated. "The Lancet did very unbiased work despite some of the political pressures that may have been out there," he said. Effective in elderly The number of people vaccinated in Russia has remained low so far. Authorities have pointed to some early issues with scaling up production while polls have shown low demand among Russians for the vaccine. Russia has already shared data from its Phase III trial with regulators in several countries and has begun the process of submitting it to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval in the European Union, Dmitriev said. There were 2,144 volunteers over 60 in the Sputnik V trial and the shot was shown to be 91.8 percent effective when tested on this older group, with no serious side-effects reported that could be associated with the vaccine, The Lancet summary said. RDIF's Dimitriev also said the Gamaleya Institute was testing the vaccine against new variants of Covid-19 and the early signs were positive. The vaccine was also found to be 100 percent effective against moderate or severe Covid-19, as there were no such cases among the group of 78 participants who were infected and symptomatic at 21 days after the first shot was administered. Four deaths of participants occurred, but none was considered associated with vaccination, The Lancet said. The authors of the study noted that because Covid-19 cases were only detected when trial participants reported symptoms, further research was needed to understand Sputnik V's efficacy on asymptomatic cases and transmission. Approved by 15 countries Sputnik V has been approved by 15 countries, including Argentina, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates and this will rise to 25 by the end of next week, the RDIF's Dmitriev said. The sovereign wealth fund also said vaccinations using Sputnik V will begin in a dozen countries including Bolivia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Iran. Hungary was the first member of the European Union to break ranks and unilaterally approve the vaccine last month. It is set to receive a first batch of 40,000 doses on Tuesday. Germany has said it would use Sputnik V if it is approved by Europe's drug regulator while France has said it could buy any efficient vaccine. However, large shipments of the shot have only been sent so far to Argentina, which has received enough doses to vaccinate about 500,000 people. Production for export will primarily be done by RDIF's manufacturing partners abroad, the fund has said. On Tuesday, Dmitriev said production had started in India and South Korea, and would launch in China this month. Trial doses have also been produced by a manufacturer in Brazil. Russia is conducting a small-scale clinical trial of a one-dose version of the vaccine, which developers expect to have an efficacy rate of 73-85 percent. - Reuters
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Putin critic Alexei Navalny jailed in Russia despite protests

A Moscow court has jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny for three-and a-half years for violating the conditions of a suspended sentence. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears on a screen at the Moscow Regional Court via a video link from a Moscow prison. Photo: AFP He has been in detention since returning to Russia last month. He had been treated in Germany for a near-fatal nerve agent attack against him in August. Thousands of supporters have rallied across Russia in support of Mr Navalny. His suspended sentence for embezzlement has been converted into a jail term. He has already served a year under house arrest which will be deducted from the total. In court he called President Vladimir Putin a "poisoner", blaming him for the attack. Navalny greeted the news with a resigned shrug. His supporters called for an immediate protest and tried to gather outside court but the whole area was overrun with riot police. More than 300 have been detained. Strong international reaction to the sentence came quickly, with the Council of Europe saying the judgement "defied all credibility". UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the ruling as "perverse", and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was deeply concerned by it. - BBC
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Britain's Captain Sir Tom Moore dies at 100 after testing positive for Covid-19

Captain Sir Tom Moore, the British WWII veteran who raised millions of pounds for health service workers on the frontline of the battle against Covid-19, has died. The Army veteran won the nation's hearts by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. Photo: AFP "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore," his daughters said in a statement. The 100-year-old, who raised almost £33m for the National Health Service (NHS), was taken to Bedford Hospital after requiring help with his breathing on Sunday. His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said he had been treated for pneumonia over the past few weeks and last week tested positive for Covid-19. He had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 due to the other medication he was taking. The Army veteran won the nation's hearts by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. His endeavour spread joy amid the grim news of the coronavirus outbreak. He was knighted by the Queen in July. "The last year of our father's life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he'd only ever dreamed of," his daughters said. "Whilst he'd been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever." Raised in Yorkshire, northern England, Moore served in India, Burma and Sumatra during WWII. "I'm so sorry to hear that Captain Tom has passed away in hospital," British health minister Matt Hancock said on Twitter. "He was a great British hero that showed the best of our country." - Reuters / BBC
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Britain's Captain Sir Tom Moore does at 100 after testing positive for Covid-19

Captain Sir Tom Moore, the British WWII veteran who raised millions of pounds for health service workers on the frontline of the battle against Covid-19, has died. The Army veteran won the nation's hearts by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. Photo: AFP "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore," his daughters said in a statement. The 100-year-old, who raised almost £33m for the National Health Service (NHS), was taken to Bedford Hospital after requiring help with his breathing on Sunday. His daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said he had been treated for pneumonia over the past few weeks and last week tested positive for Covid-19. He had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 due to the other medication he was taking. The Army veteran won the nation's hearts by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. His endeavour spread joy amid the grim news of the coronavirus outbreak. He was knighted by the Queen in July. "The last year of our father's life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he'd only ever dreamed of," his daughters said. "Whilst he'd been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever." Raised in Yorkshire, northern England, Moore served in India, Burma and Sumatra during WWII. "I'm so sorry to hear that Captain Tom has passed away in hospital," British health minister Matt Hancock said on Twitter. "He was a great British hero that showed the best of our country." - Reuters / BBC
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Myanmar coup: Calls for Suu Kyi release as lawmakers held

Calls are growing for the release of Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi a day after a military coup which has seen hundreds of MPs held against their will. Military trucks loaded with soldiers take security at the entrance of Si Bin Guesthouse where members of parliament stay in Naypyidaw in Myanmar Photo: Anadolu Agency via AFP Suu Kyi, who was widely considered the country's leader, has not been seen since she was detained by the military. It took power after declaring a state of emergency, accusing Suu Kyi's party of fraud over its election win. US President Joe Biden has threatened to reinstate sanctions on Myanmar as a result. He said the military should not "overrule the will of the people". Sanctions had only recently been eased, after the country began emerging from a decades-long military dictatorship. Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), demanded her immediate release on Tuesday. It has also called upon the military to accept the results of the November election, which saw the NLD win more than 80 percent of the votes. Where is Aung San Suu Kyi? There have been no official statements on Suu Kyi's exact whereabouts since she was detained in pre-dawn raids on Monday. But unnamed sources from within the NLD have said both she and President Win Myint were being held under house arrest. "We were informed not to worry. However we are worrying. It would be a relief if we could see photos of them at home," the MP told news agency AFP, on condition of anonymity. Military soldiers with tanks and police trucks continue to block Yaza Htar Ni road where vip entrance to the parliament in Naypyidaw in Myanmar Photo: Anadolu Agency via AFP Many of the other detained lawmakers are also still held in their government housing in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, with one member of the NLD describing it as "an open-air detention centre". Suu Kyi - who spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010 - has urged her supporters to "protest against the coup" in a letter written before she was detained. It warned the military's actions would put the country back under a dictatorship. What is the situation now in Myanmar? One day after the coup, the country appears to be in an uneasy calm. The streets remained quiet on Monday night and Tuesday morning, with troops patrolling all major cities and a night-time curfew in force. The communications systems which had been disrupted on Monday had returned by Tuesday morning, phone and internet connections were running again. On the streets of the main city, Yangon, people said they felt their hard-fought battle for democracy had been lost. Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the armed forces until 2011, when democratic reforms led by Suu Kyi ended military rule. One 25-year-old resident, who asked not to be named, said: "Waking up to learn your world has been completely turned upside down overnight was not a new feeling, but a feeling that I thought that we had moved on from, and one that I never thought we'd be forced to feel again." How did the coup unfold? In the early hours of Monday, the military's television station said power had been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. No major violence has been reported and soldiers blocked roads in Nay Pyi Taw and the main city, Yangon. Aung San Suu Kyi Photo: AFP International and domestic TV channels, including the state broadcaster, went off air. Internet and phone services were disrupted. Banks said they had been forced to close. The military declared a year-long state of emergency and has already replaced 11 ministers and deputies, including in finance, health, the interior and foreign affairs. The military takeover follows weeks of tensions between the armed forces and the government following parliamentary elections lost by the army-backed opposition. The opposition had demanded a re-run of the election, raising allegations of widespread fraud that were not backed by the electoral commission. Will sanctions work? Along with the US, the United Nations, the UK, EU and New Zealand have also condemned the military takeover amid fears of potential protests and unrest. In a statement, Biden said "force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election". The US had removed sanctions over the past decade as Myanmar progressed towards democracy. Biden said this would be urgently reviewed, adding: "The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack." It is unclear though how much effect the US warnings will have. The coup leaders will have expected sanctions and factored those into their plans. Toe Zaw Latt, Myanmar bureau chief of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), said the military will know sanctions are an unavoidable consequence of their actions, adding that "they don't care about Western sanctions" and are more concerned "about how China, Japan, South Korea respond". "The country enjoys Chinese protection and South East Asian markets," Myanmar expert Elliott Prasse-Freeman of the National University of Singapore explains. "Hence I expect them to react to sanctions with a shrug, the price paid for reasserting power and assuaging the humiliation of losing to their democratic enemies in two consecutive elections." A soldier stands guard on a blockaded road to Myanmar's parliament in Naypyidaw Photo: AFP China, which has previously opposed international intervention in Myanmar, urged all sides in the country to "resolve differences". China's Xinhua news agency described the changes as a "cabinet reshuffle". Other countries in the region, including Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, have said it is an "internal matter". Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the military's move a "serious blow to democratic reforms", as the security council prepared for an emergency meeting. The UN demanded the release of the people it believed had been detained. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the coup and Aung San Suu Kyi's "unlawful imprisonment". European Union leaders have issued similar condemnations. - BBC
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Dozens of homes lost to bushfire in Perth Hills, WA

Australian authorities say 56 homes have been lost to a massive bushfire that continues to burn out of control east of Perth. A fire driven by strong winds burns on a ridge in the suburb of Brigadoon in Perth Photo: AFP Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Commissioner Darren Klemm said that figure was likely to grow as teams completed their damage assessments. The blaze has so far burnt through 7300 hectares inside an 80-kilometre perimeter. An emergency warning is in place for parts of the shires of Mundaring, Chittering and Northam, and the City of Swan, forcing dozens of residents to flee amid confusion over the Covid lockdown. More than 2700 properties have been left without power as the fast-moving fire remains unpredictable, while two firefighters sustained minor injuries battling the blaze. A large aerial tanker from New South Wales (NSW) will arrive in Western Australia (WA) today to help about 250 firefighters and aerial crews battle the blaze. "The main task for today is to try keep the fire within the boundary that we had this morning," Klemm said. "We've had challenging conditions, but we've been able to deal with a couple of breakouts on the western edge and the southern flank. "It's still mid-afternoon, so we've still got a fair way to go. "Today has been a much better day than we had yesterday. "An additional large air tanker is on its way from NSW and will land here at half past five this afternoon." Klemm said about 15-20 of the homes lost were on the eastern side of Toodyay Road, with the rest in the Tilden Park area. "DFES will assist local governments of Swan and Mundaring to work through a process to notify those home owners of the loss of those homes," he said. "The Rapid Damage Assessment Team will continue throughout this afternoon and tomorrow, and there is a likelihood that the number of homes lost will increase once that work has been completed. "What we'll see over the next couple of days is a move toward a more south-easterly wind, so work is underway at the moment to deal with the northern and southern flank of the fire." Klemm said there was no loss of life, no injuries to the public and no members of the public unaccounted for. Earlier today, WA Premier Mark McGowan described the fire as "extremely dangerous". "DFES advise they have lost 80 per cent of all properties in the rural area of Tilden Park in Gidgegannup," McGowan said. People watch as a fire burns in Perth Photo: AFP McGowan said he had briefed the Prime Minister on the "extremely concerning" blaze as well as the Covid situation earlier this morning. "Right now, WA is battling two different kinds of emergencies," he said. On Sunday evening, Perth and parts of WA were plunged into a five-day snap lockdown after a patient with the virulent UK strain of Covid was detected in the community. Wind hampering fire fighting effort DFES deputy commissioner Craig Waters said strong winds were hampering the fire fighting effort. "Currently the fire is tracking in a west, south-westerly direction," he said. "The changing weather conditions this morning, with a changing wind direction, is putting pressure on the southern flank of the fire." He said those who had not already put their bushfire plan in place needed to do so straight away. "If you're in the shaded area in the incident map, it is too late to leave and you need to shelter in place. "For all other areas, the best option is to leave early." Fire crews 'fatigued' Waters said firefighters were maintaining their coronavirus responsibilities. "We've put in our own processes around Covid restrictions, we have restrictions on the number of firefighters in vehicles, you'll notice all fire fighters are wearing masks and maintaining social distancing." He said fires were increasingly becoming harder to control, with little relief offered once the sun goes down. "I think just the sheer nature of the fire doubling in size over the evening, we don't historically see much fire activity (overnight)," he said. "In the last couple of years we've seen increased fire behaviour, with rapid escalation overnight, and the changing climate and just moisture deficits throughout the soil is impacting how fire behaves. "Last year Yanchep was a similar experience, rapid escalation, and areas where we generally would be able to pull-up fires in low fuel-loaded areas, we're just seeing them skip through and the fire behaviour is so intense we just don't get a handle on them." Waters said fire crews were fatigued, after battling the blaze for more than 24 hours. Equestrian WA chair Ron Fleming said the community had banded together to help care for about 300 horses evacuated from the fireground. Smoke hangs over city as eastern region burns Earlier today, City of Swan Mayor Kevin Bailey said property losses had been "significant". "The fire was very aggressive during the night, it was very windy in Perth yesterday afternoon and through last night. "The fire has now come down out of the hills towards the flat part of the plains, so there's an awful lot of smoke through the northern suburbs of Perth and a number of our suburbs are very much affected by that smoke so it's a very large fire." Evacuation centres have been set up at the Brown Park Complex in Swan View and Swan Active in Midland. 'Resilient' Perth Hills a bushfire-prone area Bailey said he had been to the fire ground early this morning. "There were a number of people there that had stayed to defend quite successfully," he said. "But I think there's been some people that have lost their homes despite their efforts and they've had to go at the last minute. "The hills of Perth are very resilient and fire plans have been in place for a long time so it's very pleasing to see people react early, go early and look after themselves." Bailey said when he had visited the evacuation centre last night around 10pm there had been about 50 people there, and that number would have likely grown overnight. "We expected significant numbers, but a lot of people had relocated to other people's homes, especially with the Covid restrictions that are on they'd taken that option rather than go into a large crowd," he said. "So, a significant number of people have been relocated." Two injured firefighters recovering well Two firefighters were injured overnight but are recovering. "We've had one firefighter taken to hospital with some smoke inhalation issues and I understand they're now recovered quite well," Bailey said. Deputy commissioner Waters earlier told ABC Local Radio the other injured firefighter had worked through the night. "One firefighter has superficial burns to his ear," he said. "He maintained on the fireground overnight and was actively fighting the fire as well so yeah superficial injuries to those firefighters." - ABC
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