5 Filipinos lose homes due to Australia bushfires

Published January 6, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Gabriela Baron

Five Filipinos have lost their homes in Australia due to the bushfires that have been raging the country since September.

Meanwhile, some 300 Filipinos have been evacuated already by the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.

Fire trucks are seen during a bushfire in Werombi, 50 km southwest of Sydney, Australia, December 6, 2019.  (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas/via REUTERS/File Photo/MANILA BULLETIN)
Fire trucks are seen during a bushfire in Werombi, 50 km southwest of Sydney, Australia (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas/via REUTERS/File Photo/MANILA BULLETIN)

Australia is home to around 300,000 Filipinos, 75,000 are workers and students, and the rest are permanent migrants, according to Aian Caringal, consul general of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.

“The fire are raging sa New South Wales and Victoria, eto pong dalawa pinakamaraming Pilipino, (There are a lot of Filipinos in New South wales and Victoria),” Caringal said in an interview with DZMM.

Caringal urged the Filipino migrants to “coordinate with local authorities and Filipino communities” there.

“We have Philippine consulate general in Sydney, nag-ooversee po sya sa New South Wales, ngayon po meron na tayong landing team sa Melbourne, and in other states meron tayong honorary consulates, so we coordinate with them and the local government and with the local Filipino community para if they have urgent needs, we will see what we can provide,” he added.

(We have a Philippine consulate general in Syndey that is overseeing Filipinos in New South Wales, we have a landing team in Melbourne, and honorary consulates in other states to make sure that the needs of the Filipinos there are met.)

Caringal also advised the Filipinos to temporarily seek shelter in the city.

“The safest places would be to go the city centers kasi dun wala yung puno at grasslands,”

Those who are looking to travel to Australia should be extra “cautious”, said the consul general.

“Exercise caution kasi may times na yung smoke and visibility talagang mababa kaya minsan naka-cancel ang flight or hindi maka-land, (The bushfire smoke also affects flight’s visibility),”

More than six million hectares (about twice the size of Belgium) have been burned across the country. Some 23 people have died as a result.

Ecologists from the University of Sydney have speculated that over 480 million animals, birds, and reptiles have already been lost in the conflagrations.