New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s scheduled visit to India has been called off due to extraordinary circumstances of the bushfires in the country, news agency ANI reported quoting diplomatic sources on Friday. Also Read - Modi in Singapore: PM Meets His Australian Counterpart Scott Morrison
Morrison earlier had said he was inclined to cancel the official trip planned for this month in order to deal with the bushfire crisis ravaging parts of his country. When he was asked if it was appropriate to leave Australia given the situation, Morrison said he was “inclined not to proceed” with the visit.
Notably, PM Narendra Modi had invited his Australian counterpart to visit India. He was scheduled to land here on January 13. Besides, Morrison was also due to visit Japan from January 16 to 17.
Meanwhile the Australian navy on Friday began the evacuations of the thousands of people trapped by bushfires which have been burning out of control in the southeast of the country and killed at least 19 people since they started in September.
The operation seeks to rescue around 4,000 residents and tourists stranded for days at a beach in Mallacoota, Victoria state, where authorities confirmed the death of a second victim, while at least 28 people remain missing, reports Efe news.
“The evacuation operation at Mallacoota has begun with the first group of people being transferred into Choules and MV Sycamore for relocation to Western Port, Victoria,” the Royal Australian Navy tweeted, along with photos of one of its ships surrounded by smoke, with a red sky in the background.
On Thursday night, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster for a period of a month in six areas affected by the fires, and warned of catastrophic conditions in the eastern parts of the state, where temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius are expected on Saturday.
(With agency inputs)