Melbourne Heatwave Touches Record High Temperature

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Melbourne : Tens of thousands of homes in Australia's Melbourne city were without power on Friday due to a heatwave that has seen temperatures soar to record-breaking highs.

Power companies said the scheduled cuts affected around 169,800 customers, reports Efe news.

"Coordinated supply interruptions are required to maintain electricity supply and protect the power system as Victoria deals with record-breaking high temperatures, high demand and reduced generation availability", the Australian Energy Market Operator said.

Authorities have implemented safety measures and instructed firefighters to remain on alert due to fears that uncontrollable bushfires could break out in the state.

Meanwhile, on the southern island of Tasmania, around 500 firefighters were trying to extinguish close to 50 wildfires. Temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius in Melbourne on Friday morning.

Friday is expected to be one of the hottest days in the state since Black Saturday on February 7, 2009 when temperatures soared to 46.4 degrees Celsius, triggering hundreds of bushfires which destroyed entire towns and burnt almost half million hectares of land, killing 173 people.

On Thursday, in Adelaide, highs of 47.7 degrees Celsius were recorded, the hottest for the South Australia state capital since records began 80 years ago.

In Port Augusta, about 300 km north of Adelaide, the mercury rose to 49.1 degrees, an all-time record for the city which is home to over 14,200 people.

Several other parts of the country have also been affected by the high temperatures, with the northeastern state of Queensland registering temperatures of over 40 degrees for 40 consecutive days.

The sweltering conditions have also affected the Australian Open tennis tournament that began last week in Melbourne, forcing the roof of the Rod Laver Arena to be closed during the first of two women's singles semi-finals on Thursday.

Temperatures are expected to drop drastically on Friday night by 20 degrees, weather officials said.

Several parts of Australia have seen heatwaves since the turn of the year, while eastern regions have also been gripped by a drought, causing widespread destruction of crops and deaths of animals. (IANS)

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