Southern Australia bush fires leave 131 dead

As many as 131 lives have been lost in the bush fires sweeping through southern Australia and authorities are warning more deaths are expected.

The fires in Victoria began on Saturday on the hottest day ever recorded in Melbourne when thermometers touched 46.4C. It is thought they may have been started deliberately.

Meanwhile emergency services continue to battle around 30 fires,  a considerable reduction from as many as 400 fires which have affected 1,200 square miles, destroying 750 homes and killing 131 people.

It is hoped the situation will soon be contained as the army helps fire fighters battle the flames which have also been subdued by a fall in temperature.

Those that have survived the blazes have told stories of dramatic escapes down roads lined with burning trees causing their cars to catch fire too.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has already announced an immediate aid package of £4.5 million amid concerns that the worst-hit areas could take years to recover.

Homepage image: T Carrafa/Newspix/Rex Features

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