Australian death toll rises

MORE than 120 people are now believed to have died in Australia's worst-ever bush fires.The fires have hit rural areas of Victoria and South Australia, and police and fire chiefs believe some may have been started deliberately.

MORE than 120 people are now believed to have died in Australia's worst-ever bush fires.

The fires have hit rural areas of Victoria and South Australia, and police and fire chiefs believe some may have been started deliberately.

In an emotional interview, Australian premier Kevin Rudd said: “Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria. It's an appalling tragedy for the nation.”

The Queen and British prime minister Gordon Brown have telephoned Mr Rudd to offer sympathy to the people of Australia - but there was little sign of an easing of the conditions.

Temperatures have fallen slightly and very light rain has fallen in part of the affected area, but more high winds are forecast which, it is feared, could fan the flames further.

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