• Kyodo

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday he has postponed official trips to Japan and India later this month to focus on an escalating national bush fire crisis.

Speaking to reporters in Canberra, the capital, Morrison said his Japanese and Indian counterparts expressed understanding for the move and passed on their sympathies to Australians affected by the fires, according to local media.

He was due to visit the two countries between Jan. 13 and 17.

A total of 23 people have died in the bush fires, which have swept across four states, fueled by an unprecedented heat wave.

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