Australian PM apologises for US holiday after bushfire deaths

Alex Edelman / AFP

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cut short his holiday in Hawaii after drawing sharp criticism for being away from the country as the wildfire crisis deepens.

"I deeply regret any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time," Morrison said in a statement.

In a later interview with a radio station, he explained that the trip had been planned as a surprise for his daughters.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside Morrison's Sydney residence on Thursday to mark their objection.

His return comes after two volunteer firefighters died in a road accident on Thursday, bringing the death toll since the start of October to eight.

More than 700 homes and nearly 3 million acres bushland have been destroyed across three states so far. There are more than 200 fires burning across Australia now, with 70 of them classified as uncontrolled.

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