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17 missing in Victoria as bushfires ravage southeastern Australia

At least 17 people have been declared missing and one has died after fires ripped through East Gippsland, a rural area east of Melbourne, according to an ABC Australia report.

Video obtained by Reuters showed fires raging south of Buchan, Victoria, about 280km (173 miles) from Melbourne.

Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday (January 2) that 24 communities have now been isolated by raging bushfires in the region. Rescue crews are now scrambling to reach residents before fire risk intensified over the weekend. 

Bushfires have destroyed more than 4 million hectares (10 million acres) in Australia, with new blazes are sparked almost daily by extremely hot and windy conditions and, most recently, dry lightning strikes created by the fires themselves.

(Production: Yi Shu Ng)

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