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Thread: 200910 Australian Bushfires

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    200910 Australian Bushfires

    UPDATE 7:30am MORE than 100 people are feared dead as the worst bushfires in Victorian history rage out of control.

    Police this morning confirmed 108 people, including four children, died in firestorms described by Premier John Brumby as "hell on earth".

    Shocked survivors said parts of the state looked as though they had been hit by a nuclear bomb.

    Most of the damage was done by two massive fires - one that virtually wiped out towns northeast of Melbourne including Kinglake and Marysville, and a second inferno that raced across Gippsland.

    The toll passes the Black Friday holocaust of 1939 in which 71 were killed, and the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983, which claimed 47 Victorians.

    Twenty-two people were in the Alfred hospital with shocking burns, 10 in a critical condition.

    Heart-wrenching tales of tragedy and heroism emerged from the apocalypse.

    But it is feared many more bodies will be found in the swathe of destruction.

    As the scale of the disaster unfolded:

    750 HOMES were confirmed destroyed and 330,000ha of land burnt.

    PREMIER John Brumby said: "I have never seen anything like this and hope to never see it again."

    POLICE were disgusted that some fires may have been deliberately lit.

    PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd called in the army and started a $10 million relief fund.

    At least 29 people died in Kinglake, Kinglake West, St Andrews and Marysville where a monster fire is still raging on a 100km front.

    At least nine were dead in Gippsland at Callignee, Hazelwood, Callignee South and Jeeralang.

    Those two fires and a blaze near Beechworth are the major concerns for firefighters.

    Picturesque Marysville was virtually wiped out and there are fears nearby Narbethong suffered a similar fate.

    "It was a most horrible day. It's going to look like Hiroshima, I tell you, it's going to look like a nuclear bomb. There's animals dead all over the road," Kinglake resident Dr Chris Harvey said.

    Six of the victims were in one car trying to outrun the inferno which swept through Kinglake in minutes.

    Dr Harvey said the town was littered with burnt-out cars, and he believed many contained bodies.

    His daughters Victoria and Ali, both in their 20s, told of a local man, Ross, who lost both his daughters and possibly a brother.

    "He apparently went to put his kids in the car, put them in, turned around to go grab something from the house, then his car was on fire with his kids in it, and they burnt," Victoria said.

    With cooler weather predicted for the next seven days, authorities are racing to contain all fires while they have the chance.

    Thousands of exhausted firefighters remained on the firefront last night, many still unable to return to their own ravaged communities.

    Teams of disaster victim identification experts were flying in from around the nation to perform a grisly task Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon compared to the Bali Bombings aftermath.

    Mr Rudd announced Defence Force officers and bulldozers would be assigned to help build containment lines around major blazes continuing to burn unchecked.

    "The nation grieves with Victoria tonight," he said.

    Police suspect some of the fires were started by arsonists as the state reeled in a heatwave which saw the mercury soar to a record 46.7C in Melbourne on Saturday.

    Forensic detectives and specialist arson investigators will visit the fire zones in the days ahead.

    CFA deputy chief officer Steve Warrington said even yesterday an arsonist was hampering efforts to fight fires in the Latrobe Valley.

    "We know we do have someone who is lighting fires in this community," he said.

    "While we often think it's spotting, we also know that there are people lighting fires deliberately."

    Mr Brumby said his heart went out to those caught up in the disaster and called on Victorians to dig deep to help the thousands of people who have lost loved ones or houses.

    "It is one of the most tragic events in Victoria's history," he said.

    "For so many of us the scale of this tragedy defies comprehension. It is your generosity and selflessness that will see Victoria through this dark hour."

    The State Government is preparing an enormous rebuilding program that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The army has already started restoring essential services, including water, to the worst hit parts of Victoria.

    Police Commissioner Nixon said the death toll would continue to climb.

    "We will find more bodies as we gain access to different parts of the fire areas, where at the moment we just haven't been able to get in," she said.

    "So far we have found people in cars. It looks like they have decided late to leave their premises.

    "We have found people who have been in properties, in their paddocks. We've found others in their houses.

    "It covers the whole range.

    "And the sad part is that we found children. That is devastating for us."

    Ms Nixon said she was sickened by the fact some of the fires may have been deliberately lit.

    "It makes me very angry to see that kind of environment yesterday, where we all knew we faced the most enormous risks in our community - to then have someone who may have lit these fires.

    "We are talking about a massive death toll.

    "We also know that in our hospitals are people with very severe burns and other injuries.

    "The tolls from those are not counted at this stage, and they will be far bigger."

    Ms Nixon said teams of disaster victim identification experts were flying in from all over Australia.

    What they would find would be akin to what they saw in the Bali Bombings.

    Families sit in dazed disbelief, surrounded by mattresses, dogs and whatever meagre possessions they managed to gather as they fled the fires.

    Some talk of friends who had lost children, brothers and sisters, kids who have lost best friends and of a woman who has not seen her husband since Saturday.

    Survivors said they had no warning before daylight turned to night and their communities were enveloped in a wall of fire and smoke.

    "We looked over and there was a wall of flames looking at us and everything went pitch black. There was no warning," Joanne Fisher of Kinglake said.

    "I've never seen anything like it in my life ... You see this on TV, it doesn't happen to you." Some people weren't so lucky, unfortunately. Friends' kids have died. It's really terrible."

    Two state schools were destroyed and another 72 will be closed today.

    Ninety ACT firefighters and support personnel set out last night for Beechworth to help battle the deadly fires.

    - Mark Buttler, Jane Metlikovec and Stephen McMahon

  2. #2
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    170+ now
    Tasmanian twice the heads!!.......twice the intelligence!?

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    http://www.nationalterroralert.com/u...st-fire-jihad/

    Australia has been singled out as a target for forest jihad by a group of Islamic extremists urging Muslims to deliberately light bushfires as a weapon of terror.

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    Saturday was the also the hottest day in Victorian history. It reached about 46 deg. Celcius (115 F) at my house. Another place in southern Victoria experienced 48 deg. heat, and a temperature of 49 (120 F) was recorded in the North.

    The sun shone for most of the day, and all of this together with a gale force wind and relative humidity down to 8% meant that once any flame got going, it was impossible to stop it spreading.

    Just the wind itself was notable enough, but it's quite withering to stand even in the shade in a 46 deg. wind.

    We also had quite a few consecutive days up near the mid 40s C. only a week or so before these record temperatures, but typically for Victoria, a rapid change in the weather has brought a couple of rainshowers, and only 2-3 days later it's now rather chilly outside, too chilly for a t-shirt, with a max. of 18 C. today (makes it hard to believe it was so hot).

    170+ now
    Yes, there are reports that the toll is expected to reach at least 230.

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    Harl, thank you for that link... some of the fires were deliberately lit and the authorities are trying to find those responsible. It will be interesting to see the names of these individuals responsible, if they are allowed to be released to the public of course.

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    I really do feel for the people of Victoria
    Tasmanian twice the heads!!.......twice the intelligence!?

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    Yeah, this is pretty terrible...

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