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Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2006, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
Irwin tribute tickets spark rush
Wildlife presenter Steve Irwin
Irwin was much loved in Australia and around the world
Fans of Australian TV naturalist Steve Irwin have taken up the 3,000 free tickets to his memorial service, within just 15 minutes of them being offered.

Hundreds of grieving admirers camped overnight outside three locations in his home state of Queensland for a chance to attend next week's farewell.

The televised service will be held in the "Crocoseum" of Australia Zoo.

Irwin, known as the Crocodile Hunter, died last week when a stingray's barb stabbed him in the chest as he dived.

His death prompted outpourings of grief, with millions of well-wishers around the world sending tributes.

Many fans wept for joy on receiving their tickets, while others danced and waved them in the air.

"It's indescribable," said beauty consultant Melissa Power, who got her tickets in the city of Brisbane.

"I've haven't slept and am so over-emotional. I'm looking so forward to it ... to honour such a great Australian."

But many others were turned away. Just 1,000 were distributed at each location - the Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the nearby town of Maroochydore.

The Crocoseum only seats 5,500 people, but large television screens will be set up in other areas, and the event will be broadcast live in Australia, the US and Asia.

Tributes being paid to Steve Irwin

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