Emergency declared for bushfire-threatened Canberra

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A state of emergency has been declared in the Australian capital city Canberra and its surrounding areas due to the threat of bushfires.

It will run for 72 hours, giving authorities more powers to order evacuations, close roads and take control of private property.

Officials said an uncontrolled fire in the region's south is burning over more than 18,500 hectares.

It is the first time that a state of emergency has been announced for the Australian Capital Territory since 2003, when fires destroyed almost 500 homes.

An extreme heatwave is currently sweeping across the country, with high temperatures and dry winds expected to spark more bushfires over the weekend.

Since September, bushfires have killed 33 people and an estimated 1 billion native animals, with 2,500 homes destroyed.

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