Letter: Sydney, Manchester and other burning issues

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Sir: Your story (11 January) on the Sydney bush fires contains an error. As traumatic as they are, it is incorrect to label them 'Australia's most devastating bush fires'.

In the bush fires of 1983 that swept through south-eastern Australia, the land between Melbourne and Adelaide (a distance approaching 450 miles) was ablaze, and more than 70 people died as a result, while millions of acres of farm land were burnt. Using whatever means of calculation (sheer size, loss of human life or damage caused), the fires of '83 were far more devastating.

The international media have fallen victim to the Australian equivalent of a complaint often voiced here: that news coverage is biased towards a geographical part of the country. Yes, Sydney is the largest and most picturesque of the Australian capital cities. However, this does not mean that an event centred in or around Sydney is more important than another.

Yours sincerely,


London, SW17