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Thousands evacuated as Australian bushfires rage

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Thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes in northeast Australia on Wednesday, as bushfires raged across Queensland state amid a scorching heatwave.

Some 8,000 people were told to leave the town of Gracemere, south of the central coast area of Rockhampton, as a fast-moving blaze threatened homes.

The Bureau of Meteorology declared a “catastrophic” fire danger the highest possible risk rating in some central areas, while firefighters battled to contain more than 130 blazes across the state.



“This is a very stressful situation for families. I need you to all be strong. I need you to all listen. Your family and the protection of our community is vital,” state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned those told to leave.

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“So we need to reach out to community members who are frail, who are elderly, who have a disability. Please listen to authorities, it is going to get a lot worse,” she added.

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The Bureau of Meteorology said scorching temperatures had broken records across Queensland, with the state capital Brisbane reaching 37.9 degrees Celsius (100.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

At least 34 schools were closed, and authorities earlier in the day said the number of homes destroyed was likely in “single digits” but it was too early to confirm.

We will see more fires flare up very very quickly, so this is the start of it,” Queensland fire and emergency services commissioner Katarina Carroll warned those evacuating.

“It is very difficult to get a sense of how long people have in the area because the winds are picking up faster than what was expected so evolving, but very, very quickly,” she added.

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Russian: President Putin eases access to citizenship for east Ukraine residents.

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Source: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Separatist rebellions broke out against Ukrainian rule in both regions in 2014. Moscow provided military help for the separatists, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support.

Large swathes of the two regions are now under the de facto control of the Moscow-backed rebels, while Kiev says it is determined to re-assert its control, a position backed by most Western countries.

There was no immediate reaction from Kiev to Putin’s order. Ukrainian officials are likely to react angrily to any indication Moscow is drawing the rebel regions closer into its own orbit.

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Machester Derby – Epl’s Most important Match of the Season

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The Manchester derby today is arguably the most important match of the season as it will determine the comfort of Liverpool on the league table or the come back of Manchester City on top, while it also may determine the place of United in the European leagues next season.

Meanwhile, Manchester City have won five of their last seven Premier League fixtures at Old Trafford (D1, L1), having triumphed in only one of the first 14 visits. A seventh away win for City would be a new Premier League record for overall wins at Old Trafford by a visiting club

Manchester United have Luke Shaw available after suspension but Phil Jones limped off during the defeat at Everton and is not expected to be fit.

Ander Herrera, who has been out for four weeks with a thigh injury, was not part of the squad which arrived at the team hotel on Tuesday.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will miss out after sustaining a hamstring problem last weekend.

Claudio Bravo is City’s only other injury absentee

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