Royal Australian Navy aircrewman over wildfires in NSW 311219 CREDIT AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE
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Australian Military To Provide Additional Support With Wildfire Crisis

A ship from the Royal Australian Navy has been sent to help those forced to take shelter on beaches.

Royal Australian Navy aircrewman over wildfires in NSW 311219 CREDIT AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE

The Australian military is to provide extra assistance with firefighting efforts as wildfires continue to rage across the country.

12 people have been killed in the wildfires over the past three months which have forced thousands of people to leave their homes. 

A military ship and additional helicopters are being readied to help with the effort, while two new army task forces are being established.

Military personnel will be tasked with providing humanitarian aid, as well as helping with evacuations in the country's two worst-affected states, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria.

In recent days, the fires have worsened, with thousands of people fleeing to beaches in the south-east of the country.

4,000 people were forced to take shelter on the beach in the holiday town of Mallacoota, in East Gippsland, Victoria.

Amphibious ship HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore will sail to East Gippsland to help with the rescue effort there, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) said in a statement.

Emergency services officials said it was possible towns in the Gippsland area could be evacuated by sea as the fires, fanned by strong winds, continued.

"Mallacoota is currently under attack," Victoria's state emergency commissioner, Andrew Crisp, said on Tuesday.

"It is pitch-black, it is quite scary... the community right now is under threat but we will hold our line and they will be saved and protected."

Meanwhile, an MRH-90 Taipan helicopter and two S-70A Black Hawk helicopters are being deployed to the state of Victoria.

They will be followed by two Chinook helicopters before the weekend, tasked with also helping those in "remote and isolated communities". 

An Australian MRH-90 Taipan helping with wildfires 311219 CREDIT ADF.jpg
A MRH-90 Taipan helicopter is surrounded by orange smoke in New South Wales (Picture: Australian Defence Force).

From Thursday, a pair of C-27 Spartan transport military planes will begin moving firefighters across the affected areas in Victoria.

A new Joint Task Force, made up partly of army personnel, will begin coordinating ADF firefighting efforts in the state from Wednesday and a similar task force will also be introduced for NSW. 

Writing on Twitter, Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds said: "My thoughts are with those affected by the devastating bushfires.

"Tonight #yourADF is working hand in hand with State authorities as we deploy assets to assist."

Authorities say five people are currently missing in the two states. 

Cover Image: A Royal Australian Navy aircrewman over the wildfires in New South Wales (Picture: Australian Defence Force).

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