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‘National tragedy’: Koalas burned to death in Australia bushfire

Hundreds of koalas are feared to have burned to death in an out-of-control bushfire on Australia’s east coast, wildlife authorities said on Wednesday.

A bushfire believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike on Saturday near the town of Port Macquarie some 400km (249 miles) north of Sydney has ravaged an area of more than 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) with authorities battling to bring it under control.

Wildlife rescuers in northern New South Wales state said they had grave fears for a “very rare” population of hundreds of koalas living in the fire zone.

“The special importance of those koalas is that they are very genetically diverse,” Sue Ashton, president of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, told AFP news agency.

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