Tuesday 20 March 2018

100 missing in wake of Tasmanian wildfires

Homes destroyed by a wildfire near Boomer Bay, in southern Australia
Homes destroyed by a wildfire near Boomer Bay, in southern Australia

Jonathan Pearlman Sydney

Bushfires that have swept across Tasmania, devastating towns and villages, have left 100 people missing and several feared dead.

Police said they were searching through wrecked houses for bodies and say scores of people are still unaccounted for after blazes that have raged on the Australian island state for the past three days.

Multiple fires are still blazing but have already destroyed more than 100 houses and 50,000 acres of bushland.

Almost 1,200 people were rescued by boat after taking refuge along the coast, while several hundred inland are still stranded after the area's main highway was closed.

Police said yesterday there were no known fatalities but they held fears for a small number of people reported missing.

"We have to brace ourselves for the fact we may locate one or more deceased," said Scott Tilyard, Tasmania's acting police commissioner.

"A lot of premises need to be checked. Until we've had the opportunity to check every one of those locations, we won't be in a position to confirm there have been no deaths."

Police said about 100 people from the area were unaccounted for and had yet to make contact with family or authorities.

The fires came amid a nationwide heatwave that has led to temperatures of more than 40C.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth sent her condolences to Tasmania, expressing "deep concern" at the destruction and offering her sympathy to those who had lost homes and livelihoods. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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