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Canada prepared to provide further assistance to Australia if needed: minister

Click to play video: 'Bushfires in Australia: What ignited the deadly crisis' Bushfires in Australia: What ignited the deadly crisis
Raging infernos continue to burn in Australia after having deadly consequences for the country in the past weeks. So what's causing the crisis? Aalia Adam explains. – Jan 3, 2020

Canada is prepared to provide further assistance to help crews in Australia battling the devastating wildfires if necessary, a Canadian government official said.

In a statement released Sunday, foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada is “deeply saddened by the mounting deaths and destruction” caused by the wildfires.

READ MORE: 7 Alberta firefighters to go help fight raging Australia wildfires

“I have communicated with my Australian counterpart to reiterate that we are prepared to provide further assistance as necessary,” he said. “When wildfires spread through Canadian communities, Australia answered our call for help. We are proud to do the same.”

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More Canadian crews depart to battle wildfires in Australia – Dec 31, 2019

Champagne said since Dec. 3, almost 100 Canadian fire management personnel have been deployed to Australia to help battle the fires, with more set to leave soon.

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“These Canadians are providing expertise and relief for the Australian staff who have been working extremely hard, and around the clock, since November,” the statement reads.

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Australian wildfires cause orange skies 2000 km away in New Zealand – Jan 5, 2020

A total of 21 Canadians were deployed to Australia this weekend and another eight are scheduled to leave on Monday.

Currently, there are 65 Canadians helping out in Australia. They are assisting with planning and logistics.

The first group of 21 firefighters who have been overseas since Dec. 3 is scheduled to come home next week, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.

READ MORE: More Alberta firefighters heading to Australia to help

Since the fires began in September, more than five million hectares of land has been burned.

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Officials estimate nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed and 24 people have been killed by the fires.

In a tweet on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will “help our great friends get through this.”

“When wildfires spread through our communities, Australia answered our call for help,” he said. “Now, Canadians are doing the same,” he wrote. “Our two countries are close allies, and so many Canadians have connections to Australia.”

READ MORE: Canadian firefighters warmly welcomed in Australia: ‘We have been humbled’

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and had offered aid to help deal with the fires.

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Click to play video: 'Wildfires prompt one of the largest civilian evacuations in Australian history' Wildfires prompt one of the largest civilian evacuations in Australian history
Wildfires prompt one of the largest civilian evacuations in Australian history – Jan 3, 2020

Australian authorities were assessing the damage on Sunday from the most recent fires as cooler conditions provided a temporary respite from the blazes that have ravaged Australia‘s east coast for weeks.

—With a file from Reuters

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