Australia has just had its hottest day on record

Australia has experienced its hottest day on record with the national average temperature reaching a high of 40.9C (105.6F).

Bureau of Meteorology data shows temperatures hit a startling new high of 40.9C on average on Tuesday – 0.6C higher than the record set on 7 January 2013 – with experts warning Wednesday would likely be even hotter.

The record comes as the nation battles a severe drought and bushfire crisis.

On Wednesday, the temperature in Birdsville – a Queensland outback town situated on the edge of a desert – soared to 47.7C, making it one of the hottest places on Earth. Similar temperatures were recorded across the country.

Meanwhile, hundreds of bushfires continued to burn in states across the nation, with at least 100 in New South Wales and 70 in Queensland, where several people were treated for burns amid evacuations and power cuts.

A catastrophic, or “code red” fire alert was issued across much of south Australia, which is the nation’s highest rating and indicates fatal fire conditions.

Forecasters had predicted the most intense heat would come later in the week, with temperatures expected to reach meaning the record could be broken again.

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