Australia battles bushfires, prepares for 'catastrophic' conditions

PETER PARKS / AFP

Australian firefighters are racing towards containing widespread bushfires that have left three people dead.

Officials warned of "high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity", adding that it made "conditions dangerous".

Five people have been listed by authorities as missing on Saturday, but local media said Sunday they had now been accounted for.

By Sunday afternoon, about half of the more than 70 fires burning in New South Wales were still not under control, with two burning at an emergency level, officials added.

More than 40 schools in New South Wales have also been ordered to remain closed on Monday. 

Last week, authorities upgraded the forecast for the greater Sydney region to catastrophic fire danger.

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