Canberra, The bush fires that ravaged huge areas of the Australian countryside in recent months cost the country about 4.5 billion dollars (2.9 billion US dollars), according to a report released on Wednesday. The independent Climate Council said that nearly 80 per cent of Australians had been directly or indirectly affected by the fires during the "summer of crisis," which it said were "fuelled" by climate change. Some 12.5 million hectares of land burned during the fires, dpa reported.

Thirty-three people died, and 3,000 houses were destroyed, with the south-east of the country particularly badly hit.

"The bush-fire season was the worst on record for New South Wales in terms of the scale of the bush fires, the number of properties lost and the amount of area burned," the report said.

About 800 million animals were killed in the state of New South Wales, and about 1 billion in total, the report said.

Heavy rainfall in recent weeks helped bring the fires under control.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

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