Australia Fires: Death Toll Rises As Blazes Destroy 200 homes

 Australia Fires: Death Toll Rises As Blazes Destroy 200 homes

Bushfires have killed at least eight people in south-eastern Australia since Monday, with two others remaining unaccounted for.

The latest fires, which raced towards the coast this week, have also destroyed more than 200 homes.

Seven people have been confirmed dead in New South Wales and one in Victoria.

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Conditions have eased slightly, and a major road that was closed in Victoria was reopened for two hours on Wednesday to allow people to leave.

But many people remain in fire-hit areas – in one town, police dropped off 1.6 tonnes of drinking water by boat.

The seven deaths in New South Wales include:

  • Two people found in separate cars on Wednesday morning
  • A father and son who stayed behind to defend their home and farm equipment
  • A 28-year-old volunteer firefighter who was killed when wind flipped his fire engine

Family members of Mick Roberts, a 67-year-old Victorian missing since Monday, confirmed that he had been found dead in his home in Buchan, East Gippsland.

“Very sad day for us to (start) the year but we’re a bloody tight family and we will never forget our mate and my beautiful Uncle Mick,” his niece Leah Parson said on Facebook.

The deaths bring the total fire-related fatalities across Australia this season to at least 18, with warnings this could rise further.

Of the homes destroyed in this week’s blazes, 43 were in East Gippsland, Victoria, while another 176 were in New South Wales.

Earlier on Wednesday, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said 916 homes had been destroyed this season, with another 363 damaged, and 8,159 saved.

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