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Fires in Tasmania may have claimed lives

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Fires devastate Tasmania

Residents in Dunalley speak of the devastating blaze that gutted much of the town while crews continue to battle fires across the state.

PT0M0S 620 349

Police say the bushfires in southern Tasmanian may have claimed a number of lives.

There are no confirmed deaths but acting Police Commissioner Scott Tilyard says a number of people are missing as rescue crews begin their clean up mission.

The bushfire-ravaged Tasman Peninsula remains cut off and in blackout.

NEWS: NEWS: Destroyed home between Dunalley and Boomer Bay  Aerial. Bushfires Tasmania, Jan 5, 2013 Click for more photos

Destruction in Dunalley

More than 100 properties went up in flames in Dunalley, Tasmania. Photo: Chris Kidd

More than 1000 people have been evacuated from the Tasman peninsula to Hobart by boat, with the final ferry load of 180 people departing Nubeena for the capital early on Sunday morning.

Hundreds more have sought refuge with relatives and in evacuation centres across the region, including at the Port Arthur historic site.

The threat posed to communities by the Forcett bushfire was downgraded to watch and act, but the blaze continues to burn out of control, and has already done massive damage throughout the peninsula.

The town of Dunalley was the worst hit, with around 65 homes and the town's school destroyed, while dozens more buildings were razed at Connellys Marsh, Eaglehawk Neck, Murdunna, Copping and Primrose Sands.

There have been no confirmed deaths from the fires, but police and defence force personnel will on Sunday begin searching burnt homes and vehicles for bodies.

Most of the Tasman Peninsula remains without power after fires knocked out key infrastructure on Friday.

Power supplier Aurora said residents could be in blackout for up to a week.

Police said they are working to bring generators, food and supplies to the affected areas.

Elsewhere, a watch and act warning remains in place for a fire at Lake Repulse.

The east coast town of Bicheno remained on alert, with a nearby bushfire still burning out of control.

The town's major access route, Coles Bay Road, was reopened on Sunday morning, but motorists were urged to drive with caution in the area.

Tasmania police said evacuees who needed prescription medication could collect it from the Hobart Private Hospital in the city centre.

Doctors at the hospital would issue the required scripts free of charge, police said.

A team of 64 Victorian firefighters will arrive in Hobart on Sunday, while disaster assessment experts from the NSW Rural Fire Service have also been sent to Tasmania.

The Queen and the Prince of Wales have both sent messages of sympathy to the bushfire victims.

Much of southern Tasmania remains under a thick haze because of a massive bushfire burning in the state's remote southwest.

About 30,000 hectares have been consumed in the blaze, which is burning between Lake Pedder and Port Davey.

AAP

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