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AT least 166 people are dead and 24 blazes remain out of control as Victoria's bushfire crisis enters its fourth day.
The death toll from the Victoria fires is certain to rise further as more remains are found in more than 700 burnt-out homes strewn through the 330,000ha so far razed in Australia's worst bushfire disaster.
Most of the latest people confirmed dead were killed in the small towns of Strathewen and St Andrews, on Melbourne's bushy northeastern fringe.
There are now 22 people confirmed dead at St Andrews, a town with a population of about 1500 people. Strathewen, with only 450 people prior to the bushfires, lost 26 residents to the inferno that swept through on Saturday.
Whole towns have been declared crime scenes, with fears many of the fires that broke out on Saturday and claimed so many lives were deliberately lit.
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AUTHORITIES fear the numbers of deaths from the Black Saturday bushfires could spiral to 230, as John Brumby called a royal commission into the devastating blazes and police hunted arsonists, labeled mass murderers by Kevin Rudd.