Quoted from au.news.yahoo.com more links at bottom.
The death toll from Victoria's bushfires has risen to 84, police say, in what has officially become Australia's deadliest bushfires disaster.
As dozens of blazes continued to rage on Sunday night, it seemed certain that the rapidly-unfolding disaster would claim many more lives.
By 8.30pm (AEDT), at least 750 homes had been destroyed, more than 330,000 hectares burnt out - 220,000ha alone in the Kinglake Complex wildfire - while authorities said some fires could take weeks to contain.
Entire towns were wiped out while communities in Dederang, Taggerty and Glenburn in the state's north were still under threat on Sunday night, almost 36 hours after the first fires were sparked by record heat and winds on Saturday.
"Hell and all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria in the last 24 hours," Mr Rudd told reporters in the fire-ravaged Yarra Valley.
"Many good people now lie dead. Many others lie injured.
"This is an appalling tragedy for Victoria but, because of that, it's an appalling tragedy for the nation.
"The nation grieves with Victoria tonight."
In an address to the state, Victorian Premier John Brumby said "out there it's been hell on earth".
He defiantly declared: "We will put communities back together, Victoria will recover".
Authorities believe some of the blazes were deliberately lit and police say arsonists could face murder charges and a maximum 25 years in prison.
The toll already surpasses the 47 deaths in Victoria and 28 in South Australia in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, while the Black Friday blaze in 1939 claimed 71 lives.
Ten people remain in a critical condition in hospital with serious burns.
The Kinglake region, about 80km north of Melbourne , was the worst hit - at least 550 homes razed and 63 deaths reported in the area as of 8.30pm (AEDT) on Sunday as the furious 220,000-hectare inferno, known as the Kinglake Complex, gave locals little chance.
One fire official said the blaze had a perimeter of "several hundred" kilometres.
Former Nine Network newsreader Brian Naylor, whose family had a property at Kinglake West, was missing feared dead while his wife Moiree had been confirmed killed, a network spokesman confirmed.
According to residents, much of the town of Kinglake, which suffered at least eight deaths, had been destroyed and nearby Marysville was wiped off the map as the fireball showed no mercy on a fearful Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
"It was a most horrible day. It's going to look like Hiroshima, I tell you, it's going to look like a nuclear bomb. There's animals dead all over the road," Kinglake resident Chris Harvey told AAP.
Six of the victims were in one car trying to outrun the inferno which swept through Kinglake in minutes. Dr Harvey said the town was littered with burnt-out cars, and he believed many contained bodies.
Dr Harvey's daughters Victoria and Ali, both in their 20s, told of a local man, Ross, who lost both his daughters and possibly a brother.
"He apparently went to put his kids in the car, put them in, turned around to go grab something from the house, then his car was on fire with his kids in it, and they burnt," Victoria said.
Almost the entire town of nearby Marysville in the picturesque Upper Yarra Valley was razed, with houses, shops, petrol stations and schools destroyed after the East Kilmore and Murrindindi Mill fires merged to create the massive Kinglake Complex, which is still causing major headaches for firefighters.
Two people had been killed in Marysville, according to a police update just after 7pm (AEDT).
Ten people were killed in Kinglake West and 12 in nearby St Andrews.
Nine deaths were reported in Gippsland in the state's east on Sunday as the 32,860-hectare Churchill fire burned almost to the coast. The Bunyip Ridge fire burned 25,000 hectares and torched the township of Labertouche on Saturday.
Four people are confirmed dead at Callignee, one at Upper Callignee, three at Hazelwood and one at Jeeralang in Gippsland - the areas hardest hit by the Churchill blaze.
Fire authorities said the threat to townships from the Bunyip Ridge and Churchill fires had subsided, but residents needed to remain alert.
Crews would still be patrolling the area overnight.
Two people were confirmed dead at Mudgeegonga, near Beechworth, while one person was reported dead at Bendigo and another at nearby Long Gully.
The 30,000-hectare Beechworth-Library Road blaze, three kilometres south of Beechworth, in the state's northeast, was still listed as out of control late on Sunday evening but the threat was believed to be easing.
The ages and sex of the deceased is not known in all cases, however police expect that some children will be among them.
Touring the Yarra Valley firegrounds with Premier Brumby, Mr Rudd announced a joint federal-state $10 million emergency relief fund for the victims.
He said emergency Centrelink payments were available to those needing immediate financial assistance.
Mr Brumby said volunteer firefighters and aircraft were coming in from NSW and South Australia , while the Australian army would also be brought in to help.
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the ACT was dispatching 90 firefighters and support personnel to Beechworth to help battle the fire, along with 10 light and heavy tankers.