Wildfires sweeping across southern Australia have killed more than 170 people, a number that is expected to rise. With news that arson could be to blame for some of the fires, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said, “There are no words to describe it other than mass murder.”

To put things in perspective, the previously worst wildfire in Australia’s history killed 75 people, with all the fatal injuries occurring on one day, Feb. 16, 1983.


Officials believe some of the fires might have been started deliberately, an accusation Mr Rudd described as “a level of horror that few of us anticipated”.

“There are no words to describe it other than mass murder,” he said.

Many residents of fire-ravaged towns are now embroiled in a desperate search for friends and relatives missing since the flames tore through the tiny communities.

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