The death toll in Australia’s bushfire disaster in Victoria has now reached 131 confirmed dead, along with the solemn warning that that death toll could very well reach 200 plus.
Our country is in shock and stunned at the ferocity of the fires, especially on Saturday. Bushfires are an annual thing in Australia and our bushfires are among the worst in the world – yet this has been by far the worst ever.
The bushfire emergency is continues to unfold with fires burning across two states – Victoria and New South Wales. There have been hundreds of fires and dozens continue to burn – many out of control. There are some fires in Victoria that are yet to be attended by any fire-fighters as the current priority remains the saving of lives and property protection. Some 330 000 hectares plus have so far been burnt by the fires.
Fire-fighting crews are rushing to the bushfire region from across Australia and also from New Zealand. Great Britain has also offered assistance and doubtless other countries have also offered help.
As I write there are still homes and towns facing immediate threats from bushfire activity and residents are being warned to leave before it is too late or if remaining home to fight the fires and protect a home (should it be defendable), do not leave when it is too late to do so.
Sadly, many of these fires appear to have been deliberately lit and several arsonists have already been arrested. Many people in Australia are calling for blood. Many Australians are deeply shocked and upset by the bushfire emergency, as has been represented by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Victorian Premier – both of whom have fought back tears during interviews.
In 2009 there has only been 12mm of rain in the region where I live and in many other regions of New South Wales and Victoria there has been even less. We need rain and there seems very little of it in weather forecasts for the foreseeable future.
ABOVE: A collection of photos and tributes from the fire emergency
ABOVE: A tribute to Channel 9 Newsreader Brian Naylor and his wife – killed in the fires at their home.
ABOVE: Report on the fires
ABOVE: The Fire approaches Churchill – Victoria