The official death toll from last month's deadly Australian wildfires was downgraded Monday to 173 from a previous count of 210, after police realized some sets of remains belonged to single victims rather than several people and people thought to be missing were found.
Victoria state police said in a statement Monday that following extensive examinations of the remains and a lengthy investigation into missing persons' reports, they are "more confident that 173 is closer to the final number of people who perished during the fires."
On Feb. 7, record temperatures, high winds and forests dried by years of drought combined into infernos that swept a vast area of Victoria, destroying more than 2,000 homes and displacing more than 7,500 people.
In the six weeks since the blazes, many people who were initially thought to be missing as the result of the fires have been found, Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said in the statement. The death toll was further reduced when forensic examiners realized that some sets of remains belonged to one person, rather than multiple people.