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The worst of the bushfires in Australia's state of Victoria appeared to be over Saturday, officials said, as firefighters battling the blazes welcomed cooler conditions after days of extreme heat.

Australians sweltering through a severe heat wave were warned Thursday that the worst is yet to come, with hundreds of fires raging in several states and temperatures nearing record highs.

Dozens of wildfires sparked by lightning strikes overnight were raging in heat wave conditions across rural southern Australia on Wednesday.

Australian authorities warned Tuesday of some of the worst fire danger since a 2009 inferno which killed 173 people, with most of the continent's southeast sweltering through a major heat wave.

Russia's foreign ministry on Tuesday said Moscow has barred a journalist for the U.S-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from the country for five years over a visa infraction, a charge rejected by the journalist who described the move as “a bureaucratic trickery” to keep him out of the country.

A man died and four other people were missing after a fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least 46 homes in western Australia's Perth, officials said Monday.
One dead, four missing as Australian fire razes residential neighborhoods


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended his government's secrecy over its border protection policy Thursday after reports that boats had been turned back to Indonesia and asylum-seekers mistreated.

A complex international operation to free a Russian ship trapped in Antarctica ended Wednesday when the vessel cleared the ice field, as officials released a United States icebreaker from the rescue.

The Australian navy has turned an asylum-seeker boat back to Indonesia without first informing authorities there, Indonesian police said Tuesday, prompting fresh anger in Jakarta about Canberra's tough boatpeople policies.

The Cabinet confirmed yesterday that Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) will be the next chairman of the National Development Council (NDC).
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