Oz PM Vows To Tackle Arson ‘Evil’

Australia’s prime minister has vowed to tackle the “evil” of arson as charred homes are searched following deadly wildfires that have killed at least 173 people.

“We are left speechless at the thought and the possibility that some of these fires may have been deliberately lit,” Kevin Rudd told the Australian parliament.”Something which the nation must now attend to as a matter of grave urgency is the problem of arson.”This is simply murder on a grand scale.”Let us attend to this unfinished business of the nation and come to grips with this evil thing.”

A special taskforce of 100 police officers has been formed to investigate the wildfires and track down the arsonists believed responsible for starting some of them.Police are convinced that at least one of the major fires, which killed 20 people in Gippsland east of the state capital Melbourne, was deliberately lit.In total, at least 173 people died in the fires at the weekend and the death toll is expected to rise further as the remains of blackened settlements are combed by emergency crews.”Road by road, house by house, we are working our way through,” Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said.”We believe the toll will rise. It’s a very sad thing for all of us in our community… we hope towards the end of the weekend that the toll will start to settle in terms of numbers.”In devastated Kinglake, Ross Buchanan risked his life to save his home, only to find his 15-year-old son McKenzie and daughter Neeve, nine, had been killed as fire ripped through the rest of the town.”I’ve lost two kids, nothing can bring them back,” he told Sky News Australia.The mounting number of bodies has forced authorities to set up a temporary morgue in Melbourne which has so far admitted 101 victims.Exhausted firefighters, most of them volunteers who have had little rest since the wildfires flared on Saturday, continue to fight to save communities in the path of the flames.Healesville, about 31 miles northeast of Melbourne, is the latest community threatened by the fires, which razed entire towns over the weekend.

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