FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visits Royal British Legion Industries village in Aylesford, Britain, November 6, 2019. Richard Pohle/Pool via REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Queen Elizabeth expressed her sorrow over the devastating bushfires burning in Australia and sent her thoughts and prayers to all Australians, including the emergency services.
Australia’s head of state sent a message of condolence as the fires continued to rage dangerously out of control on Saturday along the country’s east coast, destroying homes, forcing thousands to evacuate and killing an unknown number.
“I have been deeply saddened to hear of the continued bushfires and their devastating impact across many parts of Australia,” the 93-year-old monarch said in a statement.
“My thanks go out to the emergency services, and those who put their own lives in danger to help communities in need. Prince Philip and I send our thoughts and prayers to all Australians at this difficult time.”
The message of condolence was sent to the Governor General of Australia - the queen’s representative in the country - and to the governors of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. It was also sent to “all Australians”.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Saturday that conditions were deteriorating rapidly as a change in wind conditions merged several large fire fronts.
The federal government has announced an unprecedented call-up of army reservists to support firefighters and has deployed additional resources, including a third navy ship equipped for disaster and humanitarian relief.
Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Gareth Jones