Australia will hold a national day of mourning on Sunday for victims of a wildfire disaster which destroyed 1,800 homes and claimed the lives of over 200 people. This is the country's worst-ever wildfire tragedy.
AFP - Australia will hold a national day of mourning Sunday for victims of the country's worst wildfire disaster, with tens of thousands expected to pack the largest memorial service in Melbourne.
Survivors of the February 7 firestorms that killed more than 200 people and razed 1,800 homes in Victoria state will join Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Princess Anne at the service in Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena.
Victoria state Premier John Brumby said it was time for Australia to grieve.
"There's been such an outpouring of grief and sympathy across the community that we really needed to hold this national day of mourning within a couple of weeks of February 7," he told Channel 10 television Sunday.
"The loss of life, the loss of property and the pain has been immense but at the same time the extraordinary generosity and support of the Australian people... has provided support and hope to these people."
Many survivors will be bussed into Melbourne from the small towns and villages to the north of Australia's second largest city which were worst hit by the fires.
"It will be an opportunity to have some time to stop and think about those we have lost," said survivor Debbie Shulz from the hamlet of Flowerdale, where at least eight people died.
The official death toll from the fires stands at 209.
Date created : 2009-02-22