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News > Australia

Australia Remembers Bushfire Victims in Public Ceremony

  • Photo taken on Nov. 11, 2019 shows the bushfire in Taree in New South Wales, Australia.

    Photo taken on Nov. 11, 2019 shows the bushfire in Taree in New South Wales, Australia. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 24 February 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the ceremony amid criticism for his poor response to the crisis.

The Australian people, along with firefighters and politicians, paid tribute on Sunday to the men and women of the state of New South Wales (NSW) who lost their lives while trying to put out the wildfires that have plagued the country since last September.


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The public ceremony, which took place in Sydney, honored the 25 victims from the state of NSW, Australia's most populated state and the worst affected during the recent forest crisis. Of these, 19 were civilians, three were local volunteer firefighters and three were U.S. firefighters.

"Each of them is a story of pain, loss, and sadness. The suffering of the families is incalculable," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said during the ceremony.

At the tribute, six pairs of boots symbolized the lives of the six firefighters who died in the fires in the state of NSW.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the commemoration, despite public outrage over his rejection of the role of climate change in the wildfires and his poor response to the crisis.

Scott Morrison, who was on holiday in Hawaii, USA, amidst the fires that hit Australia, attended the tribute to honor the victims and thank those who fought the fires.

"Last summer the sky turned black. The sunsets marked another night of terror, as the fire took over our beaches," Morrison said during the ceremony.

"The fire forced children to kiss their fathers' coffins and mothers to say goodbye to their children who should never have been buried," concluded Morrison, who reported last week that authorities will conduct an investigation into the causes of the flames after a dozen requests were signed for the government to provide the reasons for the fires.​​​​​​​

In Australia, a total of 33 people lost their lives during the crisis, 2,500 homes were destroyed, more than a billion native animals suffocated and a wilderness area the size of South Korea was devastated.

The forest fires broke out in September 2019, during what has been considered an unusually long wildland fire season. It was not until February that the flames were extinguished, with the help of torrential rains.​​​​​​​

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