| Victorian bushfires toll climbs to 76|
[b]The death toll from Victoria's bushfires has risen to 76, police say.[/b]
The state's toll from the latest bushfire disaster has thus exceeded the number of Victorians killed in the Ash Wednesday fires in February 1983, when 47 died.
Deaths have now been reported in Marysville and Whittlesea and Yea.
Six more people were confirmed dead in St Andrews, taking the town's bushfire fatalities to 11, while four more deaths were recorded in Kinglake West, sending the count to 10.
The death toll in Humevale rose to five, with two more fatalities confirmed.
One person is now confirmed dead at Marysville and three at Whittlesea.
Police continue to advise people to avoid fire-affected areas.
They say it is still too dangerous for many residents to return home.
Police also say some people may be unable to return home while disaster victims are being identified.
Ten people remain in a critical condition in hospital after being burnt in the Victorian bushfires.
A spokesman from Melbourne's The Alfred hospital said 10 patients were in a critical condition in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
A further 10 were in a stable condition.
The spokesman said the hospital had received two new patients from the Austin Hospital on Sunday.
He said no one at The Alfred had died from the fire.
Touring the firegrounds with Premier John Brumby and Victoria's police chief commissioner Christine Nixon, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a joint federal-state $10 million emergency relief fund for the victims.
He said emergency Centrelink payments are available to those needing immediate financial assistance.
"Hell and all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria in the last 24 hours," Mr Rudd said.
"Many good people now lie dead. Many others lie injured.
"This is an appalling tragedy for Victoria but, because of that, it's an appalling tragedy for the nation."
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) said there had been "significant structure losses" in the town, but everyone had been safely evacuated to the local sports ground, Gallipoli Park.
Emergency response crews were having difficulty accessing the town due to fallen trees blocking roads, but ABC Radio is reporting that people have now been evacuated in a convoy from Gallipoli Park to staging areas.
Mr Brumby said volunteer firefighters and aircraft were coming in from NSW and South Australia, while the Australian army will also be brought in to help.
Mr Rudd said the nation's prayers are with those affected by the fires.
"Our first response as human beings is one of the deepest empathy for people whose lives have now been devastated," Mr Rudd said.
"This loss of life, the numbers of injured, the horrific injuries, our thoughts and our prayers go out to each and every one of them as they now try and deal with this tragedy and recover from the damage which has occurred."
| 2009/2/8 4:39||Profile|
| Re: Victorian bushfires toll climbs to 76|
Please keep this in your prayers. The most devastated area is within a one hour drive from where I live. On top of the loss of life, it is estimated that over 300 houses have been destroyed. Presently in Victoria there is a rental crisis, meaning that it is hard to find a place to live, even apart from a tragedy like this occurring.
I have also heard that [url=http://www.mmm.org.au]MMM[/url], who are a missionary organisation that assist Christian ministries with their building and maintenance needs, so that they are able to focus on their work of reaching out, have had their headquarters destroyed. The devastation is beyond belief, and hard to grasp, especially considering the fact that few of us are unconnected to someone who is affected by it all.
| 2009/2/8 5:09||Profile|
| Re: |
Pray for us here please. The devastation is beyond anything I have seen, ever!
You look at the TV and you want to cry... The state is essentially on fire and the area is so dry.
I live in a place called Mentone which is pretty safe but my church and many loved ones and friends are up in the bush where there is just fear that at any time the Dandenong Ranges could go up.
Many have lost life and how many aren't Christians?
I am a computer tech for 3 nursing agencies and nurses are in heavy demand.
They will also no doubt suffer Trauma themselves. Some of our emergency nurses we can't contact and we nearly lost a staff member yesterday as she was trapped by all sides and praise God that the wind changed.
May God bring relief in this turmoil.
| 2009/2/8 9:38||Profile|
| Re: |
Some of our emergency nurses we can't contact and we nearly lost a staff member yesterday as she was trapped by all sides and praise God that the wind changed.
I was reading another article that said that more than a few people were burned alive inside of their vehicles as they were trying to flee the fire. It is difficult to imagine such a thing. What a terror it must be to have the fires of hell bearing down upon you as you try to flee. I drove between two fires one time, and the sudden increase of heat inside of my vehicle was excruciating.
I will be keeping you all in prayer.
| 2009/2/8 12:43||Profile|
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I heard about the appalling fires on the news last night. I will be praying also.
| 2009/2/8 13:44|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: |
Aaron, Michael ...
This is just incredible. Have been reading and watching all this from the links ... it is just beyond me.
We get our share of fires out here, huge swaths of land destroyed and the closet I can recall to what is happening there is a situation in the Oakland Hills near here some years back.
But it is nowhere on the scale of ... how this has happened there. I do not understand the terrain or how these fires can seemingly jump into towns like this. It's all really irrelevant though ... the loss of life, the story's of mothers losing their children of fathers ... the word "horrific".
| 2009/2/8 16:52||Profile|
Hunter Valley, Australia
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This morning Ive awoken to the news
106 confirmed dead
many people missing
fires still burning
Floods & flash flooding
5yr old boy taken by crocodile
Lord have mercy
| 2009/2/8 17:21||Profile|
| Re: |
I was just reading Isaiah, and images of this fire kept popping into my head as I read - especially of the car that appears to have been driving down the road as it was overtaken by the fire.
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness. Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.
| 2009/2/8 20:16||Profile|
| Re: |
We are looking at 130 dead.
How does it happen? We are in a drought, and then to make things worse we have had a streak of 40-45c days, we may also have more next week.
The embers are just flying and the area of Marysville, we have memories of family holidays... It is all gone now...
It is crazy, people I know have been had friends and families that have been affected.
I have friends and loved ones (and my church) in the hills, that are in an area that is now starting to go on warning.
This state is incredibly dry as well as South Australia.
HeartSong - I am sorry, but I don't understand the link between the thread and the verses?
PRAY PEOPLE PRAY!
| 2009/2/9 4:13||Profile|
| Re: Vic bushfires death toll 'could top 200'|
[b]Towns have been declared crime scenes and the death toll in Victoria's bushfires could top 200 as the grisly search for bodies continues in communities which have been completely wiped out.[/b]
By 6pm on Monday, the toll had reached 131 but that figure was certain to climb as identification experts were called in to take over from volunteer firefighters with the grim task of recovering bodies.
Senior fire and parks officials have told staff they fear the toll will double.
More than 700 homes have been destroyed, 330,000 hectares have been burnt out and more than 52 fires were listed as still burning throughout the state on Monday.
It was impossible to tell how many people were missing, authorities said, while one insurance company said the fires could cost half a billion dollars.
The Kinglake area remains the worst-hit by a fierce 220,000 hectare firestorm which ripped through the region on Saturday, killing 103 people so far and destroying over 550 homes.
At least 33 residents from the township of Kinglake alone have been killed, and a further nine from Kinglake West, with more expected.
The once idyllic communities of Kinglake, Strathewen and Marysville are little more than collections of ash and charcoal, with a few burnt-out house frames standing limply amid charred corrugated iron.
The toll reached seven in tiny Strathewen where only three of the mountain hamlet's 40 houses were still standing.
Nearby Marysville was annihilated and is one town to be declared a crime scene as police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon confirmed some fires were deliberately lit.
Ms Nixon said a taskforce would be set up on Tuesday to investigate arson.
An emotional Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the firebugs responsible were nothing short of mass murderers.
"What do you say about anyone like that? There are no words to describe it other than mass murder," Mr Rudd said.
"This is of a level of horror that few of us anticipated."
The Churchill fire in Gippsland, which police confirm was deliberately lit, had killed at least 19 people by 6pm on Monday, including nine in Callignee.
The 35,000 hectare blaze broke through containment lines earlier in the day and hit the town of Churchill, which is also a crime scene, and was threatening nearby Yarram.
In the north of the state, fire around Dederang escalated significantly late on Monday afternoon, also threatening the towns of Beechworth and Yackandandah.
The fire was spotting ahead of the main fire and ash and embers were threatening communities in Gundowring, Gundowring Upper, Glen Creek, Kergunyah South, Mudgeegonga and Running Creek.
Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers have been traumatised by many of their gruesome discoveries and the job of searching for bodies has been taken over by specialised police Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) teams.
Burnt-out cars which became tombs lined bush roads in the central highlands and volunteers were recovering the charred remains of friends and colleagues.
As more horrifying stories unfolded on Monday, three sisters were waiting near a roadblock outside Healesville when they were told their parents and disabled brother were killed.
Two of the sisters' husbands had gone through the roadblock in a desperate search for Faye and Bill Walker and their wheelchair-bound son, Geoffrey, 53, at their home in the nearby village of Narbethong.
The husbands found their bodies inside the house, with their car parked outside, packed and ready to go with the key in its ignition and family dog in the back.
The three daughters Marilyn, Julie and Vivian, were inconsolable as they cried and hugged each other at the roadblock when their partners returned with the news.
Twenty serious burns patients have been admitted to The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne in 24 hours, all with burns to more than 30 per cent of their bodies.
The Alfred's Dr De Villiers Smit told reporters the scale of the disaster is worse than the Bali bombings.
"This is by far the worst disaster I've ever been involved with," he said.
Huge emergency relief operations are underway throughout the state, with a massive exercise at Whittlesea which is serving survivors from Kinglake and its environs.
As refugees flooded down the mountain from Kinglake and surrounding townships into Whittlesea, emergency relief workers headed the other way, taking desperately needed food, water and fuel supplies to those who have remained behind.
"That's the second phase of the operation. First it's been making the area safe for firefighters to work in but also getting supplies and resources to people on the mountain who decided to stay and protect their properties," CFA spokesman Dave Wolf told AAP.
Tent cities have been set up in areas such as nearby Yea, while caravans, community halls and strangers' houses have become homes to thousands of newly homeless Victorians.
The Queen expressed her shock at the devastating bushfires in a message to Australia.
"I was shocked and saddened to learn of the terrible toll being exacted by the fires this weekend," the Queen said in a statement.
"I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who have died and my deep sympathy to the many that have lost their homes in this disaster."
| 2009/2/9 4:38||Profile|