Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Australian wildfires claims over 200 lives

Australia has suffered from its worst wild fires in history leaving thousands homeless and hundreds dead. The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has visited the southern state of Victoria which has been hardest hit by the fires, left 200 dead and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. He promised that every effort would be made to rebuild the towns destroyed. The tragedy is that some of the fires may be the subject of criminal prosecution. Christine Nixon of Victoria State Police told Sky News that several fires appeared to have been started deliberately and said they were actively seeking the arsonists responsible. If caught they may well be charged with more than arson with some branding them as ‘mass murderers’ [CNN]. The area devastated by the fires covers a huge area. More than 655,000 hectares have been scorched and much has been sealed off by the police in what amounts to a massive crime scene [BBC].
Amid the disaster, there have been tales of miraculous escapes [Sky News]. One woman told a TV network how she hid in a wombat hole while the fire raged about her. But outside Australia, the worst fire storms in living history have failed to make major headlines. Despite the enormity of the disaster, coverage on national bulletins have been sidelined by the economic crisis and weather conditions in Europe. CNN has given over a fair proportion of its airtime to the story. But despite the huge death toll the story came second to the economic crisis on Sky, BBC and Channel Four News on Tuesday evening. Even Britain's newspapers are far mor interested in the weather with many front pages dominated by pictures of snow, floods or rain.

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