Saturday, 14 February 2009

Victorian bushfires

Some of my international friends have asked me about the Victorian bushfires. Here's some news.
* * * * *
On Saturday 7 Feb, a series of bushfires began burning all over the state of Victoria. They were incredibly savage for two reasons: a heat-wave had hit the area the previous week, making the whole area tinder dry; and a change moved through with wind gusts reaching hurricane force levels up to 120km/h. The fires were so fierce, scientists estimate they expelled up to 80,000 kilowatts per meter of heat on that Saturday alone. This equals about 500 of the atomic bombs which landed on Hiroshima.
The official death toll so far is 181. But it’s expected to reach 300, as investigators get to properly search places that are off-limits at the moment because it’s still too dangerous to go in. In Marysville, eight are confirmed dead, but it’s expected to reach 100—one fifth of the town’s population. At least 35 people died in the Kinglake fire.
At least one of the fires may have been deliberately lit. Police have a man in custody, accused of starting the Churchill fire, in south Gippsland, which wiped out almost 36,000ha and killed up to 21 people.
The Red Cross has instituted a national appeal to help bushfire victims. It has hit $100 million so far. Support has come from as far afield as Dutch music maestro Andre Rieu; the Queen and Prince Charles; cricket star Shane Warne; and golfing celebrity Greg Norman. The Indonesian government has offered a donation of $US1 million ($A1.52 million), and Papua New Guinea $A2 million.
Sadly, there have also been reports of looting and false collection of donations.
For up-to-date info, see the Melbourne Herald Sun.
* * * * *
As for me - I'm safe in Sydney, about 800km from the action. But thanks for your concern :)

No comments: