Confirmed deaths are now at 180, with the real toll estimated to be over 300. Add to that the estimated 100 people who died in the heatwave of the previous fortnight.
So nice to see a message of support from the Pope conveyed to the Governor-General by Cardinal Bertone, and up on the Melbourne archdiocese website:
“...Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic consequences of recent fires in the State of Victoria, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI assured all affected of his closeness in prayer.
The Holy Father commends the deceased to the loving mercy of Almighty God, and upon their grieving families, and all those suffering from loss of property and destruction of land, he invokes divine strength and consolation.
His Holiness likewise prays for all involved in providing assistance to the victims of this disaster, encouraging them in their efforts to bring relief and support."
In addition, Archbishop Hart will offer a mass for the victims on Thursday at 1pm. For more on what the Church is doing in Victoria, including details of a bushfire charitable fund, go take a look here.