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Australia: Bushfires devastate Victoria

It is being called Australia’s worst natural disaster. Bushfires have devastated the South East. The worst impact is in Victoria with 108 confirmed deaths and more than 750 houses incinerated. Whole towns such as Marysville have been wiped out, destroying their communities.

Disbelief has been a very common reaction. Daryl Mason at The Orstrahyun:

The scope of the destruction, the scale of human tragedy of the apocalyptic Sunday fires in country Victoria, Australia's worst bushfire disaster, is beyond comprehension.

More than 100 dead, almost 1000 homes, properties and business destroyed, entire towns and villages in country Victoria laid to waste, some 350,000 hectares burned.

Reading through dozens of stories, listening to the stories of remarkably calm and lucid survivors on radio, trying to take in all those images of horror on TV, of entire towns obliterated by fire and cyclonic winds, of lone firefighters taking on five and six story high walls of flames with a single hose, of frantic survivors trying to find missing friends and family members, it's impossible to summarize any of it, all of it.

A Holocaust Of Fire, Cyclones Of Flames, Burn 100 To Death

The indiscriminate nature of the tragedy was brought home by the death of a very well known Victorian, former news reader Brian Naylor. Like most members of our local media he was well acquainted with bushfires. Andrew Norton, at his self-titled blog, paid tribute to him:

Among the 108 confirmed dead as of this morning is Brian Naylor, who read the Channel Nine news for twenty years from 1978, in the years when Nine news dominated the ratings. Almost everyone who lived in Melbourne at that time would have received part of their news from Naylor, who had the sober, sensible and reliable demeanour we prefer in newsreaders, but could also handle the touching or quirky stories that Nine often liked to finish with.

He ended each broadcast with ‘may your news be good news, and goodnight’. It’s so sad that he ended his life as part of a very bad news story, for so many people.

Brian Naylor and dozens of others, RIP

Twitter has been buzzing during this emergency. Annette's Blog, Shoosh, the grown-ups are talking, posted her tweets last night:

# 08:41 Oh dear gods. Woke up to find the #bushfires became a lot worse overnight. It sounds like 2 whole towns got wiped out and familes missing.
# 09:34 In shock. Official said the Vic #bushfires are 300% their WORST cast scenarios! Skynews report: tinyurl.com/by4d8f
# 09:54 Bloody hell. Even the Premier is on Twitter @vicpremier. He's asking for blood donations (tho not thru Twitter). Will now watch TV news. eep
# 10:20 Whoa. Just found out that friends who moved to Kinglake lost their home but were among the “lucky ones” who got out alive. o_0 #bushfires
# 11:09 searching for Lixa who lives in the abandoned church in Craigieburn, outside of Melbourne. Worried about her. #bushfires #melbourne

Tweets for Today

Her twitter search is very active.

Meet Me at Mike’s is a craft blog. It took up the issue of how its readers could help:

I know that lots of saddened people want to make SOFTIES to donate to kids affected by these fires. Bianca at The Toy Society posted last night about that – and a couple of people commented here too. I think it's definitely worth making softies to be distributed down the track, once things have settled down a bit, and agencies are accepting that kind of thing. I think they'll be warmly received. But it's really important to try and help with the immediate issues that people are facing too. Donate money. Or donate blood. Or donate your time. You can do that here.

Victorian Bushfires – Ways To Help Today (and Tomorrow!)

The link is to the Red Cross. My mother worked for them at the time of Australia’s previous worst natural disaster, Cyclone Tracy, that hit Darwin in 1974. On Christmas Day, the morning after the cyclone, she woke us up and told us we were would be having lunch without her. We didn’t see much of mum for several weeks. Her usual job was helping to re-unite migrants and refugees who had become separated. She did wait for a phone call. The mass evacuation of Darwin was our own version of these international diasporas.

This is an ongoing emergency with fires still burning out of control and a lot of summer heat to go.

Picture on front page from the Flickr page of sunrise.seven

  • Terence

    i feel sorry for the people that lost there homes in victoria and i give all my heart to all that lost there lives in this horror dats going on

  • liz

    i am so sad bout the fires. my coz’s house got burnt but every1s ok. i feel for all the familys that have lost loved ones. i hope that they catch the pricks that lit some of the fires. this is a disaster. i hope that my prayes for the wet weather to go home to australia work and help.

  • Pingback: Victorian Bushfires: Online Organizing for Relief « CauseWired Communications

  • yvonne talbot

    These people were anything but calm, they are frantic as to where their loved ones are and they r looking to their prime minister who has been slogging it out there since Saturday night. Kevin Rudd is a saint and he will be helping these ppl financially. What alot of these ppl are feeling is where are my pets? where are my loved ones? where am I going to sleep tonight? (these ppl are homeless) Dig deep Australia, dont think twenty bucks isnt enough because if 1000 ppl think that way then you r depriving these ppl of $21.000…it does add up guys!

  • JAYNE CLARE

    MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE. ESPECIALLY THE “ASTON” FAMILY WHO LIVE AT ALBERT HILL ROAD LILYDALE. PLEASE TRY AND KEEP SAFE EVERYBODY I JUST DON`T NO WHAT TO SAY ITS DREADFUL.I NO NONE OF YOU CAN READ THIS AS YOUR ALL TO BUSY. BUT ITS JUST SO SO SAD. GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND AS I SAID EARLIER IM PRAYING FOR ALL OF YOU AND HOPE THIS WILL ALL END VERY VERY SOON XXX

  • Stefanie

    I live in Europe & saw the news on tv. Sending all my positive energy to Oz & hope for lots and lots of rain to stop this madness. Strength & courage for everyone involved.

  • http://laborview.blogspot.com/ Kevin Rennie

    Update:

    The number of deaths keeps rising ( approx. 173 now) and fires are still raging in many parts. The Blood Bank has been swamped with offers to give blood. Apparently the burns units have been flat out. Even worse than the Bali bombing.

  • Richard

    Please help me a little. I am in germany and would like to know if bushfires have got to Leongatha. If so, any news , good or bad of families with the surname McClean.

    If any of you that that read this are from the leongatha area, perhaps you know Nancy McLean, an english girl who went back to the UK in November 2008. Looking for news about the safety of her in laws.

    Thanks in advance, I will check here in 12 hours.
    Any news also to camarguehengst@msn.com

    Bless you and keep well,
    Richard

  • Cindy Brennecke (Houston,TX. USA)

    My thoughts and prayers of hope and safety go out to everyone.My best friend and her family are in the area and I’ve been worried sick. Having just gone through Hurricane Ike in September, the devastation from a fire and Mother Nature is pure hell on Earth. I hope they get the creeps who did this.
    Please know that the US is praying for all of you!

  • Victoria

    All – it’s time for all of us (globally) to dig a little deeper and just give a little bit and it will add up. Do give to reputable organizations though and beware of mails sent unsolicited to your mail – as in US Katrina and after 9/11, there will be criminals trying to steal your cash. The damage is devastating and will grow as the this week goes on. My heart is breaking for people, their pets/lifestock and the glorious wild life. The monsters who started this fire deserve worst than life in prison. Folks – let’s get it together and help the survivors!

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