Australia has been hit with the hottest heatwave ever recorded

Oodnadatta has held the record for the hottest day for the past 59 years. Source GettyMore

Oodnadatta has held the record for the hottest day for the past 59 years. Source GettyMore

Adelaide has recorded Australia's hottest ever capital city temperature - a sweltering 46.6C - during a day that toppled records across South Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported temperatures of 49.1 Celsius north of Adelaide, while inside the city temperatures reached 46.6 Celsius, a fraction above a record that had stood since 1939. Dozens of horses were found dead in the dried-up beds of former watering holes around the Alice Springs community in the Northern Territory this week, killed by apparent dehydration or heat stroke.

The Bureau has said that it has been hotter and drier than average which has been partially to do with climate change.

While thousands of people have flocked to beaches to cool off in the surf, hundreds have taken to shopping centres to stay out of the heat.

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Adelaide's Red Lion Hotel promised free beer if the mercury topped 113 F but only while it exceeded that benchmark.

But the temperatures are also testing municipal services, with SunCity buses forced to cut their services, leaving commuters searching for trams or trains to get home.

"Coordinated supply interruptions are required to maintain electricity supply and protect the power system as Victoria deals with record-breaking high temperatures, high demand and reduced generation availability", the Australian Energy Market Operator said.

Emergency services are on alert in more than 13 districts as bushfires warnings are in place across a number of states. Temperatures are expected to ease in much of the south over the weekend and into next week, but a lot of damage had already been done. A year ago was Australia's third-warmest on record.

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