Sydney air ‘hazardous’ as bush fires rage, Latest World News - The New Paper

Sydney air ‘hazardous’ as bush fires rage

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SYDNEY : Sydney residents coughed and spluttered their way around Australia's largest metropolis yesterday, as a bank of smoke from rural fires enveloped the city, prompting health warnings.

Smoke from more than 70 out-of-control bush and grass fires to the north of the city prompted the health authorities to warn residents with respiratory problems to avoid outdoor physical activity.

"If you really want to keep out of the smoke, the best thing you can do is stay indoors, keep your doors and windows shut," said Mr Richard Broome of the New South Wales Ministry of Health.

Firefighters are struggling to contain dozens of blazes, including one caused by a lightning strike far north of the city that has ravaged an area of over 2,000ha.

Strong winds have pushed the fumes towards Sydney, shrouding landmark buildings such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and lacing the air with an acrid taste.

"The smoke will likely persist for several days and may not clear until some stage over the weekend," said the New South Wales Rural Fire Service yesterday.

The authorities yesterday rated the air quality as "hazardous", with a higher concentration of particles per million than cities such as Bangkok, Jakarta or Hong Kong. - AFP