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Music stars play for wildfire victims

SOME of the biggest names in music took to the stage yesterday for the Australia's largest-ever fund-raising concert and to show support for victims of the nation's wildfires.

More than 100,000 people turned out for the "Sound Relief" concerts, held simultaneously in Sydney and Melbourne.

The concerts took place as authorities said the last of the large fires that ravaged Victoria state last month had finally been brought under control after weeks of fire fighting efforts.

The wildfires left 210 people dead and 10,000 homeless - Australia's worst natural disaster in more than a century.

In a special message, Prince William and Prince Harry expressed sympathy for the victims.

"For those survivors who have lost someone they love, we can only imagine what they are going through," Prince William said. "For them, and for all those left injured and homeless, the tragedy is far from over."

Australian pop diva Kylie Minogue, who flew in specially for the event, also added her support following a minute's silence in memory of the victims.

"I think that the minute's silence probably says more than any of us could say," Minogue said. "I'm so thankful I can make it home tonight and share this with all of you."

Among those performing was Australia's environment minister, Peter Garrett, with his band Midnight Oil, one of three bands that had specially reunited for the event. "We didn't have to convince the prime minister or anyone else about us playing," he told a news conference. "I said I'd love us to get out on the stage together. The boys were ready to do it, and it was just one of those things that happened very quickly."

The event was opened by British pop group Coldplay, currently on tour in Australia.

Ticket agency Ticketek said the Melbourne Cricket Ground event sold out, with 79,000 people paying A$75 (US$49) a ticket, making it Australia's biggest paid concert, topping the previous record crowd of nearly 75,000 for Guns n' Roses in 1993.


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