Friday, February 13, 2009

International firefighters on their way to assist their Aussie counterparts...

Inevitable that Kiwis would figure in casualty lists:

As I said the other day elsewhere, it would be inevitable that Kiwis would figure in the Victorian bushfire death toll, considering the numbers of Kiwis who now reside in Victoria in particular, and Australia in general.

The latest reported casualty is a locally raised man from Upper Hutt, a few miles north of me in the Hutt Valley. Harley Morgan a devoted husband and chainsaw wood carver,57, and his wife Errol,70, died alongside each other as bushfire engulfed their home in Maryville in rural Victoria.

He was a sawmill worker who had lived more than 30 years in Australia, and was well known for his wood carvings. The couple had moved from Melbourne 15 years ago to their country holiday home.

Our daily paper reported a number of other Kiwi victims of bushfires in this mornings issue.

About 170 people attented a lunchtime mass at Wellington's St Mary of the Angels yesterday to pay their respects to the 181 known victims of the bushfire flames.

NZ PM John Key farewelled more than 50 firefighters as they left Auckland yesterday for Melbourne. Fifty one national rural fire officers and five fire fighters from the NZ Defence force have been sent to Victoria.

Four police victim recovery dogs and their handlers were also on yesterday's RNZAF flight to Melbourne.

It was also reported in the TV news the other day that the largest fire fighting heliicopter in the Southern Hemisphere was flying to Victoria; it was going to island hop and refuel on its way to Australia.

All Kiwis involved were reportedly very proud to be involved in assisting our Australia neighbours in the most tragic civil disaster to have occurred in Austraia in peacetime.

A contingent of American firefighters were reportedly on their way to Victoria as well. They have had plenty of experience fighting fires in California in recent years. Financial assistance is being sent from the UK and other countries.

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