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Australia raises 250M dollars for wildfire victims

An appeal to help victims of bushfires that devastated southeastern Australia killing 210 people has raised nearly 250 million dollars (162 million US), officials said Monday.

"So far we have received 244,400 dollars in donations to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal," Kate Marshall of the Australian Red Cross told AFP. "We are very pleased indeed," she added.

Huge concerts held in Sydney and Melbourne at the weekend drew tens of thousands of people to see acts that included Kylie Minogue and Coldplay, raising an additional five million dollars for victims.

The "Sound Relief" concert in Melbourne, which featured Minogue and a host of other stars including Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett as the lead singer of the reunited group Midnight Oil, drew around 83,000 fans.

"Sound Relief was an absolute landmark event for the Oils and for me," Garrett said at the weekend after performing songs including crowd-pleasing "Beds Are Burning."

At least 210 people were killed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed as fires fanned by record high temperatures and strong winds swept through drought-stricken southern Victoria state last month.

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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Mar 16, 2009
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