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Many good people lie dead

Posted by lawman2 on February 9, 2009

A fire truck in front a wall of flame at the Bunyip sate forest Tonimbuk township in Victoria, Australia

A fire truck in front a wall of flame at the Bunyip sate forest Tonimbuk township in Victoria, Australia

AUSTRALIA has witnessed its greatest natural disaster. Worse than Black Friday. Worse than Ash Wednesday. Only in wartime has the toll of dead and wounded been greater.

 

Among the first victims identified last night were Channel Nine’s former chief news reader Brian Naylor, of Kinglake, who was unaccounted for, and his wife, Moiree, who was confirmed dead. Their daughter-in-law is believed to have survived with her two children. Her husband, the Naylors’ son, Matthew, 41, died in a light plane crash last May. The first bushfire victim named was panelbeater Peter Avola from Strathewen.

 

The towns of Kinglake and Marysville have been wiped out as if they had been bombed, and around the state more people have died than in any previous natural catastrophe – one so lethal that authorities are treating it like a big terrorist attack.

 

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said: “Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria in the last 24 hours, and many good people now lie dead; many others lie injured.”

 

Last night the official death toll was 76, with at least 700 homes destroyed – 550 of those in Kinglake and surrounding areas. Almost 312,000 hectares of land is affected.

 

Almost half of Victoria may be declared a crime scene, with arsonists believed responsible for several of the fires.

 

NSW escaped luckily. Despite more than 50 fires blazing, there had been no loss of life or property, although one man was charged with arson over a blaze in Peats Ridge, on the Central Coast.

 

Altogether there were 83 fires still burning last night.

 

More than 70 people died in the Black Friday fires of 1939 _ and 75 on Ash Wednesday in 1983, 47 of them Victorians. Senior police sources told the Herald they feared the final figure will be double that.

 

Marie Jones from Canberra, who was visiting a friend at Kinglake, said a badly-burnt man had arrived at the property where she was staying with

 

his infant daughter, and told her his wife and other child had been killed. “He was so badly burnt. … his little girl was burnt, but not as badly as her dad, and he just came down and he said, ‘Look, I’ve lost my wife, I’ve lost my other kid, I just need you to save [my daughter]’,” Ms Jones said.

The first of several interstate victim identification teams arrived yesterday to help Victoria Police and coronial staff under a terrorist contingency plan framed in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001.

 

Bodies in burnt-out cars will have to be removed first so that roads can be opened to the public before gutted buildings can be combed for remains of the missing. Victoria’s morgue was full last night – and hospitals and universities were being asked to store bodies until formal identifications could be made.

 

Some of the 80 people in hospital were not expected to survive. The once pretty alpine town of Marysville was reduced to a tangled mess of smoking rubble and twisted iron.

 

Most residents were evacuated to nearby Alexandra, itself under threat from fire last night.

 

But some of those who left too late or stayed to fight the fire lost their lives.

 

The fire that began at the old Murrindindi sawmill near Yea earlier on Saturday raced across the Black Spur and razed the hamlet of Narbethong and then Marysville, house by house, street by street.

 

After one terrible hour Marysville was no more. Few buildings escaped. Every public building – including the police station, post office, telephone exchange – and the much-loved guest houses and a hotel, had been destroyed. Worse was the fact that some of the gutted cars and buildings had human remains in them.

 

Names were unavailable last night but the few locals who stayed and survived talked numbly yesterday of one firefighter’s family being killed, of an age pensioner dying at home and of cars being found with human remains in them. They hoped the toll was as few as five – but it could be much higher, they said.

 

Leigh Jowett, a third-generation local, saved the old house he had grown up in – then helped his neighbours save theirs. “There might only be 15 or 20 houses left in Marysville,” Mr Jowett said. “There’s only three left in Falls Road – and the whole main street is gone apart from one motel.”

 

He listed the burnt-out buildings: the Marylands and the Cumberland guesthouses, post office, police station, kindergarten, general store, timeshare apartments, caravan park and the Marysville Hotel.

 

Graham Haycraft, formerly of Marysville, was distressed to hear his old family home had been destroyed but counted himself lucky to have moved out.

 

“Marysville missed out in 1939 and on Ash Wednesday, but not this time,” he said last night.

 

“My heart goes out to people who are part of my life.” He expected to return for funerals.

By ANDREW RULE

http://www.canberratimes.com.au

From one of our blogging friends living there in the midst of this tragedy.  Blog name Mrs Slocombe regrets  click below to read post

Man and Beast

or

Too terrible to contemplate

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One Response to “Many good people lie dead”

  1. Lawman2 said

    this is a tragedy! very sad. my thoughts are with Peter Kenneally and everyone in that part of our world.i hope you click on his link and read his post!

    let him know you are thinking about him and leave him a comment!

    Like

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