Three people have died after a water tanker plane crashed while fighting bushfires in New South Wales.
All three victims were American residents, Australian authorities said.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) officials said the C-130 Hercules plane, which was operated by a private contractor, was carrying out waterbombing activities before it went down.
The RFS added that they lost contact with the aircraft and the flight tracker stopped.
New South Wales RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was no indication of what caused the crash and the scene has been cordoned off by police.
Image: Firefighters are seen fighting New South Wales bushfires in December last year
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