Australia swelters as temperatures approach 50C

24 January 2019, 01:58 | Updated: 24 January 2019, 11:05

Australia's summer continues to break records, with parts of the country sweltering in temperatures approaching 50C (122F).

The country has already seen heatwaves this month and it was home to the world's top 15 temperatures on one day earlier this week.

The highest of these was 49.1C (120.4F) in Tarcoola, a town in the north of South Australia.

As the Australia Day holiday weekend approached, many across the country were bracing for more of the same.

Some of the most extreme temperatures were seen in South Australia, where the state capital Adelaide had reached 42C (107.6F) by midday and Port Augusta, about 185 miles north, had reached 46.3C (115.34F).

Local newspaper editor Dylan Smith tweeted a photo of a temperature gauge on a Port Augusta shop showing 50C but this had not been confirmed by meteorologists.

Adelaide's all time record of 46.1C (115F) set in 1939 was under threat but in other parts of the state, records tumbled as towns and cities saw their temperatures soar into the high 40s.

Among them, Port Lincoln reached 47C (116.6F) beating its previous record of 46.1C and Snowtown had 47.3C (117.1F), beating the record of 46C (115F).

SA Health said 44 people had gone to the state's hospital emergency departments with heat-related illnesses, 12 of those were admitted for further treatment.

In Victoria, Melbourne was looking likely to break its record for overnight temperatures, according to Richard Russell, from the state's Bureau of Meteorology.

He told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that temperatures there would be "nothing short of oppressive", adding that Thursday night could see a low of 29C (84.2F). The city's overnight record is 30.6C (87F).

As if the heat was not bad enough, some 2,700 households in rural Victoria were left without electricity due to a power line fault which was expected to take several hours to repair.

The fault forced the closure of public swimming pools and councils in the two towns - Nagambie and Avenel - set up relief centres for people trying to escape the heat.

Extreme temperatures have also increased the fire risk, with dozens raging, particularly in Victoria and on the island state of Tasmania.

Total fire bans were also in place for parts of New South Wales and South Australia.