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Record-breaking heat scorches southern Australia

Wildfires destroyed more than 20 homes while hundreds of thousands of others lost power as a record-breaking heat wave that began claiming lives maintained its oppressive grip on southern Australia on Saturday. About six people died from heat stress in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, over three days before the temperature mellowed to 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit) on Saturday. Melbourne on Friday recorded its third consecutive day of temperatures above 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) for the FIRST TIME SINCE RECORD-KEEPING BEGAN IN 1855. South Australia state authorities said Saturday that the heat had probably caused some of the recent 22 sudden deaths there. In Victoria, at least 23 houses were destroyed Friday night and Saturday by wildfires that burned 16,000 acres (6,300 hectares) of forest and farm land. Adelaide is expected to match its longest heat wave in a century on Monday, with six consecutive days exceeding 104 F (40 C). The heat there buckled train and tram lines. "These events are UNPRECEDENTED. In some respects, they are not unlike a natural disaster, impacting on a community like a flood or tornado."

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