Bushfires in New Caledonia continue to increase

Authorities in New Caledonia have launched a public awareness campaign as the number of forest fires in the territory continue to increase.

A total fire ban is in force as firefighters continue to battle dozens of bushfires across the archipelago as a prolonged dry spell continues.

Last Sunday, a helicopter involved in fighting a fire near Voh, about 300 kilometres north of Noumea, crashed, killing its pilot and a mechanic on board.

Only 20 millimetres of rain fell last month, and authorities expect the situation to worsen as what's expected to be one of the worst El Niño systems in over a decade intensifies.

New Caledonia's director of civil security, Eric Backès, says the coming months will be incredibly difficult, with severe drought and strong winds forecast.