A water tanker plane is feared to have crashed while fighting bushfires in Australia on Thursday.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) officials said they lost contact with the “large air tanker” while it was above the Snowy Monaro region of New South Wales.
The RFS said in a statement: “Local ground crews indicate the aircraft may have crashed.
“A number of helicopters are in the area carrying out a search.”
Image: Firefighters are seen fighting New South Wales bushfires in December last year
There are few other initial details about the plane or the search.
Canberra Airport in Australia’s capital closed because of nearby bushfires earlier on Thursday, with residents south of the city told to take shelter.
The fires in Canberra started Wednesday but strong winds and high temperatures caused conditions in the city to deteriorate.
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A second fire near the airport that started on Thursday morning is at the “watch and act” level.
Image: Burning embers are seen on the ground during the bushfires in New South Wales
The airport authority said in a tweet: “Arrivals and departures are affected due to aviation firefighting operations.”
Another tweet from traffic police said “the fire is moving fast and there are multiple road closures in the area. Please avoid the area. Local road blocks in place”.
Defence Minister Angus Campbell told reporters: “The defence force is both assisting to a degree and looking to whether that needs to be reinforced.”
He added: “I have people who are both involved as persons who need to be moved from areas and office buildings that are potentially in danger, and also those persons who are part of the (Operation) Bushfire Assist effort.”
Bushfires have been raging in Australia since September last year, and have claimed 28 lives while destroying more than 2,600 homes.
Source : Sky News