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S. Australia feels like a furnace

SOUTHERN Australia suffered yesterday from a record-breaking heat wave that has threatened rural towns with wildfires and sent ambulance crews after heat-stressed patients.

Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, recorded its third consecutive day of temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius for the first time since 1855, when record-keeping began, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The temperature in Melbourne topped 45.1 degrees yesterday, the bureau said.

Adelaide, the other major city on the south coast, is expected to match its longest heat wave in a century by Monday, with six consecutive days exceeding 40 degrees. Temperatures in Adelaide this week were the hottest in memory. On Wednesday, the high reached 45.7 degrees, a temperature not seen in 70 years.

Thousands of homes in both cities have experienced blackouts since Thursday due to power drains by air conditioners, authorities said. Adelaide commuters have been warned to expect delays because the heat had buckled train and tram lines.

Three rural towns in Victoria state were under threat from wildfires spreading quickly in the furnace-like conditions, a deputy chief fire officer said.


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