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Monday, February 09, 2009

Letter from a friend in Victoria, Australia re the worst natural disaster in the country's history. Horrifying.

Hello dear friends and family overseas, some I haven’t been in contact with for a while, I hope you are all well.

We have had terrible unspeakable tragedy here in the last few days. Beyond belief, in case you were wondering, I am safe, we are ok here. I do not know what you see on the news but it’s pretty bad. Worse than I have ever seen. The worst hit area is about an hour or so drive from where I live.

They have called it “Hell on Earth” and the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.

I have been sitting in front of the TV since yesterday watching in utter disbelief. On Saturday an inferno swept through Victoria in unprecedented fury.

They say the wall of fire was over 100 feet high and traveled at speeds of 25 km’s every 4 minutes.

That means if a fire was 50 kms away from your home you would think you would be ok, and then only 8 minutes later your home was engulfed. Most people in its way perished and burnt to death trying to escape. It came so quickly people jumped into their cars to drive away. Most didn’t make it. Their burnt out cars with bodies have been found on roads everywhere.

Those that survived crawled into spider filled pipes going under the roads with flames licking their clothes or one family wet blankets and pushed their kids and dog into a wombat hole and covered themselves with the wet blankets and prayed whilst the fire blew over them. They said there was no air and the smoke was choking them. But they survived. Just.

These fires are about an hour or so from where I live. About 50 km’s away. We are lucky here; the winds did not blow in our direction.

The week before this we experienced unbelievable temperatures. We had some 4-5 days in a row of around 44-45 degrees centigrade. I found dead possums outside my home. They just fell out of the trees. Even though I watered my plants; all the leaves have burnt from the heat. Going outside was like putting your head into your oven.

The temperatures hit 46.7 degrees, (that’s 116.1 degrees in Fahrenheit) on Saturday and the winds blew fast. I was just overcome by the heat that day and was wetting Teddy Bear and myself with a wet towel? Over 700 houses and properties are gone so far. There is NOTHING left. So far 131 people have perished. Famous newsreader Brian Naylor and his wife were found in each others arms burnt alive. They were trying to save their dream retirement home in Kinglake. 1000’s and 1000’s of hectares of land are just a baron wasteland. It is tragedy beyond belief………

Many TOWNS have disappeared. Kinglake, Marysville, half of Yea, Whittlesea, Healesville other small towns and more are in threat. We know that area well; we pass it on the way to the snow at Mt Buller. The countryside looks like a nuclear bomb hit it. One man described it like Hiroshima. They said fireballs kept falling out of the sky into properties well ahead of the fire wall. I saw the walls of flames on the TV from helicopters in the distance. It was beyond belief, like a bad sci fi movie.

In another total different area of Victoria, the beautiful historical town of Beechworth is still under threat today. Many have left their homes today knowing that they may perish if they stay. As you know, what makes it worse is that we are in the worst drought in history with almost no water supplies. Everything is dry as a cracker!

On Saturday and until today there were still 50 different bush fires throughout Victoria. The worst in history. Today there are still 28 separate fires burning and whilst the temperatures have fallen the winds are still steady and they are worried about some fires re-igniting. Fire fighters have come in from every state in the country. The government has sent in the army to find the rest of the missing people in the burnt out rubble.

1000’s and 1000’s of people have nothing and no where to live. The army has set up a tent city in Yea and people are happy to have somewhere to lie down. Many have been sleeping 4-5 people in a car for the past 3 days and still wearing the same clothes without showers. There is a food shortage up there as the roads are closed.

I have never witnessed anything like it in my life. It was like watching 9/11 again. Almost worse, if that is possible, as it spreads so far. There are no words to describe the devastation!

To make matters worse, our state of Queensland in the north is two thirds under flood. 2/3 of the state has flooding up to waist height. Homes have been lost there or half under water.

I thought you may want to know what is happening here! Its very frightening.

Keep safe and take care of each other.

Your friend Bianca

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