300 Filipinos affected in Australia bushfire; Local celebrities raising awareness

January 7, 2020 - 8:54 AM
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A general view of fire damage on Kangaroo Island
A general view of fire damage on Kangaroo Island, Australia, January 6, 2020. (AAP Image/David Mariuz/via Reuters)

The bushfires raging across Australia have affected around 300 Filipino migrants there and prompted some celebrities to appeal for help and prayers for the victims of the ongoing crisis.

According to Time magazine, the fires have burned more than 12 million acres or over 4 million hectares of land.

A BBC report, meanwhile, stated that half a billion animals have already been killed by the fires.

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, a Filipino-Australian model and singer before becoming Miss Universe Philippines, wrote a prayer for the people and animals affected by the files on Instagram.

“Australia is in a state of emergency! For two months, we have seen unprecedented heat and catastrophic bushfires sweep across the nation, with today’s forecast to be the worst so far, and the fire season is only just beginning,” Gray said on January 4.

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Prayer warriors, please join me in praying for Australia. 🙏 Father God, I pray for Australia. I pray for rains that would come and dispel the fires that are raging. I pray for your protection over the land, all of its people, their families and wildlife. I pray for the volunteers, the firefighters, the servicemen who are putting their lives at risk every day. We ask for a mighty miracle Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN. 🤍 Australia is in a state of emergency! For two months, we have seen unprecedented heat and catastrophic bushfires sweep across the nation, with today’s forecast to be the worst so far, and the fire season is only just beginning… The damage caused so far devastates me to my core: ⁣ ⁣ – 14.5 million acres of land has been lost. That’s six times more than the Amazon fires in 2019. ⁣ – Half a billion animals have been burnt alive, with fears some species of animals and natives have been wiped out completely. ⁣ – 20 people have died, more are missing and the death toll is estimated to rise. ⁣ – 8,000 koalas have died and are now declared “functionally extinct”.⁣ – 1,500 homes have been lost, with tens of thousands of people being evacuated and entire towns fleeing for shelter on the beach or boats.⁣⁣ – Canberra experienced the worst air quality in the world partly from a cloud of smoke as large as Europe.⁣ ⁣ We are experiencing a national crisis, and it is only going to get worse. Right now we need a miracle to stop these fires. Our firefighters are VOLUNTEERS, taking time off from their paying jobs to put their lives on the line for us. Please help & donate to these charities (LINK IN BIO) & if you can’t donate, please share this:⁣ ⁣ – @NSWRFS: to help the volunteer firefighters battling on the frontline. ⁣ – @WIRESWILDLIFERESCUE: to help the wildlife victims. ⁣ – @SALVOSAU: to help families & communities affected by the fires with food, resources, etc. ⁣

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She also shared details of the current extent of the damage as she asked for help from the public to volunteer and donate.

“Right now we need a miracle to stop these fires. Our firefighters are volunteers, taking time off from their paying jobs to put their lives on the line for us. Please help and donate to these charities,” she said and attached a link of the charities people could donate to.

Meanwhile, TV personality Anne Curtis, who was born in Australia, also expressed her hopes for more rain to help fight off the flames.

“Thankful for the rain in Melbourne but praying for more rain all across Australia to help with the uncontrollable bushfires to help ease the work of the tired firemen,” she said.

She also retweeted a report from a Melbourne-based agency telling how the the rains and the cool weather help firefighters control the fires.

Curtis lived in Australia until she was scouted by talent agencies to enter the entertainment industry. She later decided to stay permanently in the Philippines. Years later, she and long-time boyfriend Erwan Heussaff also held their wedding in New Zealand.

Situation of Filipino workers

So far, only 300 Filipinos from East Gippslad Shire have been evacuated to the city of Bairnsdale in Victoria, Australia, an official from the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.

“Just two to three days ago, we received reports from our Melbourne landing team… and we have an honorary consul in Melbourne. They both recently reported cases of Filipinos who have been affected by the bushfires. There were 300 Filipino residents of Easy Gippsland in Victoria who have been evacuated to the city of Bairnsdale,” Consul General Aian Caringal said in an interview.

No Filipino was among the 24 people who have died. Two Filipino-owned homes, however, were destroyed by the fires.

The embassy has yet to receive orders to repatriate affected Filipinos.

Caringal advised Filipino migrants to monitor the situation and keep in contact with the authorities, particularly of Philippine embassies and consulates.

As of publication, international reports have cited the months of severe drought as the main cause for the bushfires.

To illustrate the severity, one Reddit user compared the amount of damage in Australia to the area in the Philippines based on available data online.

Australian wildfire compared to the Philippines from Philippines