SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: The Bureau of Meteorology reported temperatures of 49.5 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) north of Adelaide, while inside the city temperatures reached 47.7 Celsius, breaking a record that had stood since 1939. More than 13 towns across South Australia have smashed their own heat records.

The state’s health authorities early Thursday reported that 44 people had received emergency treatment for heat-related illnesses in the past 24 hours. “Remember to check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbours, and those who are unwell,” the state emergency services tweeted.

Health authorities were also forced to issue a public warning to avoid contact with hundreds of heat-stressed bats falling from trees in parkland areas.

Authorities in central Australia said they had to cull more than 50 feral horses, after they found 90 dead or dying wild brumbies near a dried-up water hole. Shocking images of dozens of dead horses strewn across the dry ground began to circulate on social media this week.

“With climate change well and truly upon us, we expect these emergencies to occur with increasing frequency and nobody is truly prepared and resourced to respond to them,” David Ross, director of indigenous representative body the Central Land Council, said in a statement.

Emergency services are on the alert as more than 13 districts are under threat of possible bushfires. Meanwhile, a total fire ban was issued further south in the island state of Tasmania, where authorities continued to battle blazes.

The soaring temperatures follow a heatwave last week that saw Australian towns among the hottest places on Earth.