Australian wildfire death toll rises to 208

The death toll in the worst wildfires in Australia’s history has risen to 208, after seven more bodies were found, police said on Thursday.

The updated figure came just one day after police had said they did not expect the toll to go much higher, as they believe the bodies of those people listed as missing had been located.

The wildfires swept through the south-eastern state of Victoria earlier this month, driven by hot winds and record temperatures that had left the countryside as dry as tinder, destroying about 1 800 houses.

“The provisional fatalities for the 2009 bushfires have climbed from 201 to 208,” a police spokesperson said.

The revised toll includes an additional six deaths in the fire-ravaged hamlet of Marysville, where a total of 45 people are believed to have died, and one in Flowerdale, the spokesperson said.

Marysville suffered the most fatalities of any town in the fire disaster zone.

A national day of mourning for the victims has been scheduled for Sunday.

Authorities estimated that as many as 10 000 people were displaced by the fires, which were still raging on Thursday. Hundreds of firefighters were battling five major fronts, but no property was under threat. — AFP

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