Death toll of Australia’s wildfires rises to 65

By Xinhua,

CANBERRA : The death toll from bushfires in Australia’s Victoria state has risen to 65 on Sunday afternoon, police said.

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This figure has surpassed the worst death toll of 47 people in the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria.

Apart from the death toll, 640 houses have also been destroyed across the state, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp..

Six of the confirmed dead have been found at Kinglake, six at Kinglake West and four each at St Andrews and Wandong, all in the north of Melbourne, the report said.

The Australian Associated Press reported earlier that four people have been killed in the Gippsland town of Callignee and one more in Upper Callignee, three have died in Hazelwood and one at Jeeralang.

“We are sadly predicting more deaths,” the report quoted Victoria’s police chief commissioner Christine Nixon as saying in Kangaroo Ground in the fire-ravaged Yarra Valley.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, while touring the fire grounds with state government officials, announced a joint federal-state 10 million dollars (6.5 million U.S. dollars) emergency relief fund for the victims.

He said emergency Centerlink payments are available to those needing immediate financial assistance.

“This is an appalling tragedy for Victoria but, because of that, it’s an appalling tragedy for the nation,” Rudd said.

More than 20 fires continued to burn across Victoria on Sunday after horrific heat and wind on Saturday set the state ablaze.