• More than half a million hectares have been burnt in Victoria's destructive East Gippsland fires. (AAP)Source: AAP
One person has been confirmed dead, and 17 people remain missing in the East Gippsland region. The total death toll for this fire season now stands at nine.
By
Madeline Hayman-Reber

Source:
NITV News
2 Jan 2020 - 8:40 PM  UPDATED 2 Jan 2020 - 8:40 PM

One person has been confirmed dead and another 17 missing in East Gippsland alone, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has told media.

The death brings the national toll to nine since Monday. More than half a million acres have been burnt in the East Gippsland region alone, with 9.9 million acres burnt nationally.

At the northern end of the fires, roads have been reopened to Sydney.

An emergency evacuation order stretching 250kms has been issued.

Thousands of terrified NSW south coast holiday-makers are attempting to flee the region ahead of this weekend as conditions are predicted to worsen.

In Bairnsdale, where the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative has been housing evacuees, CEO Jamie Williamson said the situation was quite calm as the community prepares for what could be the worst yet.

"Once again the advice would be the same as what the authorities are saying, those who can get out now, should get out," Mr Williamson told NITV News.

In Lake Tyers, the Lake Tyres Aboriginal Trust has been working with emergency services to prepare and keep those who have chosen to stay, safe.

"We're just trying to find people [who have stayed in Lake Tyers] other choices," a representative from the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust said.

"The power's been going on and off. If the power goes off the water goes off. But we can’t force anyone to do anything."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison fronted the media on Thursday to announce the deployment of naval vessels and military assistance to fire-affected areas in Victoria and New South Wales.

Two naval vessels filled with supplies arrived at the Victorian town of Mallacoota earlier that morning, where thousands of people are stranded. A rescue mission to relocate them will commence on Friday morning.

While Mr Morrison has acknowledged that climate change is at play, he has made it clear that there are no plans to change to the government's climate change policy.

"Our emissions reductions policies will both protect our environment, and seek to reduce the risks and hazards that we're seeing today. At the same time it will seek to ensure the viability of peoples jobs and their lively hoods all around the country," Mr Morrison said.

"Right now the focus, as I said at the outset, is to fight these fires and to get people to safety."