The death toll from bushfires in southeastern Australia has risen to 208, the Australian Red Cross said Thursday. Five fires are still burning across the state of Victoria, a spokeswoman with the Country Fire Authority said
Wildfires that scorched much of southeastern Australia this month now threaten part of the country’s water supply, even as the fires’ death toll has risen to 200, officials said. Fires that continue to burn near some major reservoirs in the region imperil the quality of billions of liters of water, according to Australian television station 9 News.
Police have arrested a man in connection with one of the myriad wildfires that have laid waste to parts of southeastern Australia and killed at least 181 people. Police say the man is suspected of lighting a fire on February 7.
A national day of mourning and a memorial service will honor the victims of the past week’s wildfires in southeastern Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced Thursday. “It is important, it is very important that the nation grieves,” Rudd said, according to the Australian Associated Press. The government is working with the Council of Churches on the details of the service.
At least 108 people have been killed in Australian wildfires that the country’s public broadcaster Sunday called the worst in the nation’s history. Kendra Jackson, leading senior constable of Australia’s Victoria state police, told CNN the latest death toll Sunday. The number of dead is now far higher than the toll of 75 in the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983