Victorian bushfires: Malcolm Turnbull pays visit to bushfire-affected areas in Wye River

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces his new federal cabinet during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, September 20, 2015. Australia got its fifth prime minister in as many years on Monday after the ruling Liberal Party voted to replace Abbott with former investment banker Malcolm Turnbull, following months of infighting and crumbling voter support. Reuters/David Gray

Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull visited areas in Victoria’s Surf Coast that have been affected by the Christmas Day bushfire.

The Turnbulls were greeted by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and local Liberal MP Sarah Henderson upon arriving. The 2,300 hectare bushfire blaze destroyed 116 homes in the Wye River and Separation Creek area.

The prime minister called the members of the Wye River Country Fire Authority “lifesavers” and praised them for their dedication and hard work in tackling the raging bushfires. He also spoke to the head of the Wye River CFA brigade.

Turnbull also spoke to two CFA volunteers who have lost their family homes. CFA Captain Roy Moriarty said that years of planning paid off in fighting the fires.

“The damage is total. The houses have been completely wiped out, cars have been completely gutted,” the Herald Sun quoted Turnbull as saying at the Wye Surf Club. “Nature can be cruel and capricious. You see one house burnt to nothing, burnt to the ground, and next door a house of similar vintage, similar age, appears untouched.”

He said he noticed a house completely destroyed by the bushfires and praised the people who lost their houses to the disaster for their incredible optimism. He added that the planning by the locals, which braced them for the bushfires and saved as many as 200 homes, should act as an example for the rest of the country.

“It’s only human to focus on the tragedy, on the loss,” he said. “But there’s a real triumph in the way this community managed this natural disaster, which has a force and power beyond human control.”

While the blaze continues in the region, the authorities have warned people to stay on alert as there could be a further rise in the temperatures. The Insurance Council of Australia has estimated around $50 million loss due to the bushfires. The State Government will be providing emergency payments up to $1,300 to the residents who have lost their homes in the incidents.

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