Australian authorities have charged a man over deadly bushfires that have killed more than a 180 people in the country.
Whisked into custody for his own safety, the 39-year-old man is suspected of deliberately lighting the Gippsland blaze in Victoria state, which claimed 21 lives. Arson carries a maximum penalty of 25 years. Police have warned people not to seek revenge.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Dannye Moloney said: ‘‘Let Victoria Police do its role. We’ve identified this person. We’re prosecuting this person on behalf of the community. If we left that person there, it would only be a situation where people may go to where they believe him to be held.”
The wildfires sweeping southeastern Austrialia have caused horrific damage, with fears the death toll could rise above 200.
Elsewhere, the northern state of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone
after devastating floods.
Thousands of firefighters continue to battle some 20 bushfires in Victoria, many of which remain out of control. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described the deaths as ‘mass murder’.