Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Australia is in mourning
This post is dedeicated to those who have lost their life
in the devastating bushfires in Victoria
At the time of posting 181 people were confirmed dead
with many more missing and countless more suffering in burns units in hospitals
Dozens missing, toll tipped to reach 300
DOZENS of people are missing, presumed dead, amid warnings the Victorian bushfire
toll could top 300, with up to 100 of the dead coming from one town.
as the official death toll continued to climb, it was reported looters were
stalking the blackened shells of the towns hit.
The toll climbed to 181 overnight but with dozens still missing it is expected to top 200
and there were even reports it could reach as high as 300.
Those missing were "people who the coroner believes are already deceased,
but are not yet identified,"
Victorian Premier John Brumby said. Marysville was being identified as a potential
"Ground Zero" for the firestorm, with authorities
fearing up to 100 of its population of 519 had died.
The force of the fires was likened to that of 500 atomic bombs.
"We had people banging on the sides of our tanker begging us to go back to houses
where they knew there were people trapped,
but we couldn't because if we had, we'd all be dead too," a firefighter
told The Australian about the moment the firestorm hit.
Some residents were being allowed back to survey the devastation of the fires,
but many were still banned from returning.
Whole towns were being treated as crime scenes as police hunt arsonists
believed responsible for at least some of the destruction.
Police said they could release a photograph an arsonist
suspected of setting a blaze in Gippsland.
More than 20 people had died in that region.
But as shattered residents take stock of what they have lost,
some have reported a sickening sight -
looters moving through gutted homes looking for items to steal.
The claim came from a man whose brother was killed at his Yarra Junction home.
He said thieves had tried to steal the only items spared from destruction.
"They're vultures," he said.
Other survivors reported battles with red tape to access desperately needed aid.
Gary Hughes, a writer for The Australian, said he had been denied help by Centrelink
unless he could produce identification.
"Losing everything means just that - everything,"
he wrote in an open letter to the Prime Minister.
"There are many like us who didn't have time to calmly pause to
collect wallets and purses as we fled our homes with wet towels
over our faces to avoid choking to death on toxic smoke and flaming embers."

Awful tales of loss continued to surface more than three days after the blazes,
but there were also uplifting accounts of survival.
In Murrindindi, firemen guided 19 people, including seven toddlers and babies,
to a river and hosed them under fire blankets as the desperate parents
begged to know: "Are we going to make it out of this?"
Andrew Collard, 30, and Brian Lawry, 46, stormed through the fire in their truck
and saved the group of eight families as flames engulfed them at a park.
They herded the families, all campers from Melbourne,
into the shallow water, parked their truck to protect them before driving cars
into the water and bundling the toddlers and babies inside, covering them in blankets.
"The fire was around us on four sides.
We were constantly having embers landing on us,
we were just surrounded by fire."
Jack Powell, 94, walked away unhurt after being covered with a wet blanket
as the blaze swept Strathewen.
Juliet Moore survived a fall from a police helicopter after unwinching herself to save her dog. Hundreds of friends and relatives continue to swamp websites
looking for loved ones who have not made contact in days.,21598,25020467-948,00.html?referrer=email


Photos from The Big Picture showing the devastation caused by the bush fires in Australia.

kindly borrowed from A Welsh View

If you are curious about the authenticity of this photo,
take a look at the video on this news site. [via]

kindly borrowed from A Welsh View

click this link to see where the fires are still burning
Multimedia: Interactive bushfire map


nonamedufus said...

Phil, truly devestating. I hope you, your family and friends are safe and sound.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Phil, all of Australia is in my thoughts and prayers. I so hope this can come under control soon. :)

Rick said...

I'm a Fire Chief from a small community in B.C. Canada. I've experienced a small bit of what your country is going through.
One of my friends in the BC Forest service is leaving for Oz tomorrow, to help fight the fires.
All the best to you and your countrymen.
Wishing you all good luck!

Phils Phun said...

G'day Nonamedufus,Sandee and Rick.
Thank you for your words of support.
Here in Western Australia, we feel for our fellow aussies on the east coast. Be assured a massive nationwide relief program is underway and the whole country is pulling together to help in any way we can

Robert said...

My heart goes out to the people whose lives have been devastated by the fires. I was living in Wagin, WA in 1974-1975 as an Exchange Student and spent Christmas 1974 in Darwin and felt firsthand the devastation of Cyclone Tracy. The Australian People recovered then and will recover agian. You are a strong people.

Kindest Regards, Robert Kelly, Rolla, Missouri, USA

Bunk Strutts said...

Hope they catch the bastards that set the fires. Completely senseless waste of life and property.

Leesgirl said...

How awful

Phils Phun said...

G'day Robert
Thanks for yor comments
Have been thru Wagin many times, mainly on my ay to Esperance
Were you Rotary Exchange student?
Iam travekking to Vanciouver, British Colombia and Washington State as part of A Rotary Friendship exchange in July
It will be my 2nd trip to Canada
Might drop in for a beer

Phils Phun said...

G'day bunk old buddy
One person was arrested today and charged with starting one of the fires.
Wisely the cops have supressed his name and details.
Good to hear from you

Phils Phun said...

G'day Leesgirl
Thank you for visiting and for your concern.
Have visited your blog. Cool
Take care
from down nder

Rick J said...

Our effort to help you guys out.
If you are around Vancouver Island on your trip to Vancouver next year, drop me a line

Phils Phun said...

G'day Rick
We all appreciate the wonderful contributions from everyone.
Ihave seen some TV footage of the snowballing firestorm and would not like to be in its path
Will be in Vancouver early in July
Not sure if Iwill get onto Vancouver Island, as much as Iwould love too