Australia heat sets new records, as dozens of wild horses are found dead by dry waterhole

Searing summer heat in Australia continues to break records with the highest temperature ever recorded by a major city on Thursday as the conditions are also being blamed for the deaths of dozens of wild horses in the outback.

The South Australia state capital city of Adelaide saw a high of 46.6 degrees Celsius (115.9 degrees Fahrenheit), beating its previous 80-year-old record of 46.1 C (115 F) set on Jan. 12, 1939, and records tumbled in smaller towns across the state.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said on Twitter that the extreme heat is shifting towards the southeast part of the country, with large areas expected to have temperatures over 100 degrees into the weekend.

AUSTRALIA RECORDS FOUR OF THE HOTTEST DAYS ON RECORD IN PAST 10 DAYS AS IT STRUGGLES WITH HEATWAVE

Adelaide, a city of 1.3 million people, beat the heat record set by Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, of 46.4 C (115.5 F) in 2009.

At least 44 people have gone to emergency rooms in the region with heat-related illnesses, with 12 admitted for further treatment, Sky News reported.

Heatwave conditions, combined with a prolonged drought across much of Australia's southeast have led to scores of major wildfires and reports of mass deaths of animals.

In Central Australia more than 50 brumbies, a free-roaming feral horse, were found dead at a watering hole that had completely dried out, according to local authority Central Land Council. It's not clear why the horses died, but locals believe the animals entered to drink from the reservoir not knowing it had been completely dried up.

WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS BELOW

A local resident who came across the horses, Ralph Turner, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he had never seen anything like it.

"We've been having hot weather, day after day," Turner said. "I just couldn't believe something like that happened out here, first time it happened like that."

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Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rob Sharpe told the Associated Press he would not be surprised if January becomes Australia's hottest on record with heatwave conditions likely to persist. Last year was Australia's third-warmest on record.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.