Its mid-summer and Australia swelters in record-breaking heatwave

Tiny Marble Bar in Western Australia state, which bills itself as the nation's hottest town, recorded a peak of 49.3 degree Celsius (121 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday,

Australia's vast continent is sizzling through extreme heatwave conditions this week, with temperatures reaching record highs and emergency services on high alert for bushfires.

The mercury is up to 16 degree Celsius (29 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than usual for this time of the year for southern Australia, with numerous towns setting new December records, the Bureau of Meteorology said Friday.

"Heatwave conditions are being experienced across large parts of the country," the weather bureau said, adding that the sizzling temperatures spanned the southern parts of four states and the Northern Territory.

Tiny Marble Bar in Western Australia state, which bills itself as the nation's hottest town, recorded a peak of 49.3 degree Celsius (121 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday, it added.

Major cities across the country are also affected, with the thermometer pushing towards 40 degree Celsius and the heat set to linger into the new year.

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