Fuelled by three years of drought, hundreds of fires burned across Australia’s east coast for months before finally being extinguished in February [Fire: Sean Davey/EPA]

Australia on Monday began its first hearings into the causes of catastrophic bushfires that swept across the country, killing 33 people, destroying some 2,500 homes and razing an area the size of South Korea.

Fuelled by three years of drought, which experts have attributed to climate change, hundreds of fires, some massive in size, burned across Australia’s east coast for months before finally being extinguished in February.

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“The tragic loss of life, the destruction of homes, the significant loss of livestock and millions of hectares of forest has been devastating and continues to deeply affect people and

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