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Bushfires kill 93 in Australia

[ 2009-02-09 11:48]     字号 [] [] []  
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Bushfires have killed at least 93 people, destroyed hundreds of houses and engulfed entire towns in Australia. The fires have occurred mostly in Victoria state, police said yesterday.

The country's worst bushfires have killed people trying to flee in cars or huddled in homes.

Fires tore through several rural towns north of Melbourne on Saturday night, destroying everything in their path. One family was forced to dive into a farm reservoir to survive; others cowered in a community shed while firefighters stood between them and a wall of flames.

"It rained fire," said one survivor, showing his singed shirt. "We hid in the olive grove and watched our house burn."

The remains of charred cars littered the smoldering towns yesterday. Some were crumbled heaps after crashing into each other as their drivers frantically tried to escape the fires.

Police said the death toll could continue to rise because at least 20 people with serious burns are in hospital and the ruins of many houses are still to be searched. Thousands of firefighters are still battling scores of fires in Victoria and New South Wales states.

"We are just picking them up (the bodies) as we go through," a police spokesman said.

The previous worst bushfire tragedy was in 1983 when 75 people were killed in the "Ash Wednesday" wild blaze.

The Australian government has put the army on standby and set up emergency relief funds. But it faces some pressure from Greens lawmakers who have been urging it to toughen its climate-change policy to reduce the risk of more such disasters in summer.

Survivors said the Victorian inferno was as high as four stories, with blazes racing across the land like speeding trains. "It went through like a bullet," Darren Webb-Johnson, a resident of the small rural town of Kinglake, told Sky TV.

"The service station went, the take-away store across the road went, cylinders (exploded) left, right and center, and 80 percent of the town was razed."

State broadcaster ABC showed pictures of the razed small town of Marysville. "Hell and its fury have visited the good people of Victoria," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said during a tour of the burnt-out region. "The nation grieves with Victoria."

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Bushfires kill 93 in Australia

About the broadcaster:

Bushfires kill 93 in Australia

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.