It's hard to believe the news coming in from Victoria. Every news broadcast there are revised estimates of the dead and injured and towns destroyed in the fires sweeping through approximately a third of the state. The latest figures I have heard are 181 confirmed dead and that is expected to rise to over 200. The number injured is just as grim. Whole towns have been completely annihilated and in some cases, where the fires are suspected to have been started by arsonists, they are being treated as crime scenes. There have been terrible images of razed buildings, dead animals and blackened skeletons of trees. The speed of the fires and their intensity has meant that even the best prepared have struggled to survive. There are high temperatures forecast again in a few days and the hope is that the fires will be brought under control before then.
The outpouring of sympathy and practical help from all over Australia is amazing. During the sitting of Parliament yesterday more than one politician was close to tears over the scale of the disaster and loss of life. Firefighters and police officers are being sent from all over Australia and NZ to relieve the weary locals and assist in identifying bodies. Appeals are being launched to raise money or supply needed goods for those who have lost everything, ranging from the large scale by national organisations to the local like the quiz night being arranged by one of my neighbours. It's times like this, when people open their hearts and wallets, that I truly appreciate how generous Australians can be. So many people are doing so much.
With family and friends in Victoria - fortunately not in the affected area - this is close to our hearts. Thank you to everyone who is doing their bit.