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Australia heat wave bakes southeast with temps near 110 degrees

By Clyde Hughes

Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A heat wave in Australia is torching to the southeastern part of the country, where areas saw temperatures Friday well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

In Melbourne, the city recorded its hottest day in five years -- 108 degrees -- before the mercury quickly tumbled 30 degrees in about 30 minutes, forecasters said.

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The Bureau of Meteorology said the sudden drop in temperature, to 80 degrees, fell even further (69 degrees) within a couple hours.

Before the dip, Friday was Melbourne's hottest day since Jan. 16, 2014, when the temperature reached 110 degrees.

Officials said emergency crews rescued 10 children from hot cars around the city in the scorching heat, and carried out 37 rescue operations on Victorian beaches. Several campfires were left unattended, despite a complete fire ban across the state, they added.

Extreme temperatures have baked parts of Australia for many days. The country is in the midst of its summer season, which runs typically through the end of March.

In Walgett, a breakdown of the city's treatment plant left many residents without water and some with no air conditioners. City officials called on residents to conserve their use of filtered water.

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"The heatwave out here is extreme," resident Donna Therese said.

Bendigo, Victoria, reached 112 degrees Friday afternoon, while Mildura hit 115. Forecasters said gusts reached nearly 50 miles per hour as a cold front moved through.

Some places like Canberra, Australia's largest inland city, are expected to see temperatures drop into the low 80s Saturday when thunderstorms and clouds arrive.

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