Australia is sweltering through an unprecedented heatwave – with forecasters warning temperatures could exceed an all-time high of 50.7C (123.3F).
Temperatures of about 40C (104F) are expected all weekend in Perth, and the heat is expected to travel eastwards towards Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra between Tuesday and Friday.
Forecasters at the Bureau of Meteorology have warned that southern inland areas could experience highs of 45C (113F).
Weather warnings have been issued for parts of Western Australia and Queensland – with the hot, dry conditions fuelling bushfires that have destroyed more than 400 homes since November.
Meteorologist Diana Eadie told ABC News: “It is not out of the realms of possibility that we could break our highest-ever recorded temperature of 50.7C (123.3F) at Oodnadatta, which is in South Australia.”
That record was set all the way back in January 1960.
In the coming days, Australia could also break the record for the nation’s hottest day as a whole. The current level of 40.3C (104.5F) was set in 7 January 2013.
“At this stage with these sorts of temperatures that we’re forecasting… it looks like we could break that record over a number of consecutive days towards the end of next week,” Ms Eadie added.
Firefighters have been struggling to contain a “fast moving” coastal bushfire in Western Australia that has been fanned by strong winds.
Since last month, more than 2.5 million acres (one million hectares) of farmland and bush has burnt, with four people losing their lives.
While bushfires are common in Australia during the summer, which begins in December, the fires have started much earlier this season.
Soaring temperatures, dry winds and suspected arson have been blamed, and experts have warned that climate change has left bushland tinder-dry.
No heavy rain is expected until late January.