MELBOURNE, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The deadly bush fires in Australia claimed the life of a firefighter Tuesday as the official death toll topped 200.
David Balfour, 46, was killed by a falling branch, The Daily Telegraph of Sydney reported. He was hit by a tree branch as he connected a hose to a tanker truck.
Balfour, a fire brigade veteran from Canberra and a union official, was the first firefighter to die in the bush fires. But many others have been killed as the fires swept through Gippsland, a large rural area in Victoria northeast of Melbourne.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said Tuesday some of the bodies may never be identified, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
"It is a very difficult process in some cases to actually be able to determine whether the remains are human remains or not," Walshe said. "As to what the number's going to get to I think we should await and let it unfold over the next week or 10 days."
Sunday has been declared a national day of mourning for victims. Thousands of people are expected to attend a memorial service at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena, the ABC said.
Government officials said more than 11,000 claims worth $12.8 million covering almost 15,500 people have been paid through the Australian government disaster recovery system.