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2/15/2009

Australia fire survivors in emotional return to ruined town

MELBOURNE (AFP) — Survivors made a heart-rending return Saturday to a town burnt to ashes in Australia's deadliest bushfires, as police picked through the crime scene in their hunt for suspected arsonists.
With one in five of the town's original 500 residents feared dead, police counsellors were aboard the buses that took the traumatised survivors back to Marysville, northeast of Melbourne, for the first time since the inferno.
Marysville resident Merran Guest said she expected an emotional ride through the devastation of the once-picturesque mountain hamlet, but felt she needed to see it for herself.  Image: Smoke from Australia's fires are seen lessening from February 9 and the lower from February 13

Around 100 people are feared to have died in the town when wildfires fuelled by high winds and tinder-box conditions engulfed the region's eucalypt-covered hills a week ago.
The inferno killed more than 180 people and scorched several towns across vast areas of southeastern Victoria state but Marysville remains sealed off as a crime scene as police search for bodies and evidence of arson.
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