Sunday, February 08, 2009
HELL HAD VISITED VICTORIA - HELL AND ALL IT'S FURY...
"Hell had visited Victoria - hell in all it's fury," said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday. It is the worst peacetime tragedy in Australia's history. There are claims many of the fires were deliberately lit - are there depraved murderers on the loose in Victoria?
Communities across the state were deeply concerned and becoming anxious as bushfires continued to burn. A huge fire in the Strzelecki Ranges in Gippsland, east of Melbourne was also causing extreme anxiety to local residents. More homes were destroyed and 250 residents met with emergency authorities in Churchill. 6,000 hectares had been engulfed, but direct threats to some towns had now eased. There were also some fears that fires would encroach onto some transmission lines at Loy Yang Power.
It had been devastating and horrific for many residents in Victoria. 11,000 homes and business had been out of power, and 32 trains cancelled. Inland Victoria was still experiencing over 40 degrees.
Over 170 people had been confirmed dead in the state of Victoria and expected to pass 200, surpassing the 47 in the 1983 Ash Wednesday blazes. 312,000 hectares had been ravaged by bushfires and 700 homes destroyed (550 in Kingslake alone)in the last few days. The Red Cross had 20 relief centres operating, and 3700 people registered as having been evacuated.
There were many sad stories of the death and destruction caused by the bushfires relayed from victims in areas surrounding Melbourne and other parts of Victoria. A resident described the fires as being like a sustained bombing attack, with all the associated noise. An observer claimed "Kinglake" had ceased to exist.
In Whittlesea alone, 12 people had tragically perished in the blaze, with six possible family members in one car. There had been many sad, sad stories of injuries and death, one of a very young child.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had said "Hell had visited Victoria. Hell in all its fury!" He added that special welfare payments of a $1000 per adult and $440 per child would be made to assist families in the immediate future.
Any other resources needed would be supplied by the Australian Defence Force.
The New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, announced that 100 Kiwi fire fighters would be sent to help their counterparts in Victoria. The NZ Government would also give a half a million dollars in immediate aid. Private fundraising efforts had also commenced through local banks. That was the least New Zealand could do at this stage. Fires were still raging in some parts of Victoria. Many Kiwis could figure amongst the fatalities considering the number living in Victoria and the rest of Australia.
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