Monday, August 2, 2010

Inquiry slams 'systemic failings' in killer Australia fires

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: Cowering in their homes or fleeing in sheer terror, 173 Australians died in a firestorm of unparalleled ferocity, a report found Saturday, detailing a disaster plagued by "systemic failings" and chaos.

The Royal Commission into last February's so-called "Black Saturday" wildfires handed down a mammoth four-volume report of findings and recommendations about Australia's worst natural disaster.

It called for an overhaul of the controversial "stay or go" policy allowing residents to stay and defend their homes instead of forcible evacuation, saying the emphasis needed to recognise that some fires simply weren't defendable. "The rigours of mounting a defence in the face of fires such as those on Black Saturday caught many by surprise," the commission said.

Nearly half of those who died were classed as "vulnerable," the report said, because they were aged under 12 or over 70, or because they were suffering from some illness or disability….

Lake Mountain toboggan run after Australia's 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, shot by Peter Campbell, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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