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World Sydney gasps for air as Australia bushfire smoke reaches record levels

05:40  22 november  2019
05:40  22 november  2019 Source:   reuters.com

Firefighters who saved house leave milk 'apology'

  Firefighters who saved house leave milk 'apology' They saved a New South Wales home - then apologised to the owner for taking milk from the fridge.Paul Sefky returned to his New South Wales home to find a note signed by the Urunga Rural Fire Service (RFS).

The Australian state of New South Wales is gasping under the worst levels of air pollution recorded as smoke from widespread bushfires causes a spike in hospital visits and hazards including poor visibility for drivers.

Sydney residents were warned about severe fire danger on Tuesday, as temperatures soared to 37C (98.6F) in the city's west. Parts of the city recorded air pollution levels at eight Media captionWarren Smith's home was destroyed in recent bushfires in Australia . What's happening with the fires now?

By Sonali Paul

a large ship in a body of water: FILE PHOTO: Fort Denison is seen as haze from the ongoing bushfires covers the city skyline and the Sydney Opera House in the background, in Sydney, Australia© Reuters/JOHN MAIR FILE PHOTO: Fort Denison is seen as haze from the ongoing bushfires covers the city skyline and the Sydney Opera House in the background, in Sydney, Australia

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian state of New South Wales is gasping under the worst levels of air pollution recorded as smoke from widespread bushfires causes a spike in hospital visits and hazards including poor visibility for drivers.

Sydney, the country's most populous city, woke up to a thick haze, and blood red sun, for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, even as a cooler change brought some relief for firefighters battling scores of wildfires across the country's southeast.

Winds fan ferocious fires in Australia's most populous state

  Winds fan ferocious fires in Australia's most populous state Ferocious wildfires were burning at emergency-level intensity across Australia's most populous state and into Sydney's suburbs on Tuesday as authorities warned most people in their paths that there was no longer time to flee. New South Wales state is under a weeklong state of emergency, a declaration that gives the Rural Fire Service sweeping powers to control resources and direct other government agencies in its efforts to battle fires. The worst fires on Tuesday emerged in the state's northeast, where three people have died and more than 150 homes have been destroyed since Friday.

Sydney gasps for air as Australia bushfire smoke reaches record levels . November 22, 2019. He 'loves your ass': ambassador reveals 'Trump-speak'.

Air pollution levels in Sydney were nearly 10 times higher than the national standard. Fires are common in Australia 's summer, but this year has been particularly unusual. A combination of factors such as drought, unseasonably hot, dry and windy conditions, have fuelled the bushfires for weeks.

The bushfires have pushed the harbor city into a rare appearance this week in the top ten cities with the worst air pollution in the world. Having reached as high as No. 8, Sydney was sitting at No. 10 on the Air Visual global rankings on Friday morning, above Jakarta and Shenzhen, and just below Mumbai and Kolkata.

The crisis has put pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with critics saying he had not done enough to address the impact of climate change on Australia.

"The impacts of the ongoing drought and recent bushfires have led to some of the highest levels of air pollutants recorded in New South Wales since air quality monitoring began during the millennium drought," a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said in an email.

Australian wildfires injure firefighters and destroy homes

  Australian wildfires injure firefighters and destroy homes CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Officials say more than 50 homes have been damaged or destroyed and 13 firefighters were injured overnight by catastrophic wildfires across Australia's most populous state before the emergency subsided. The fire service said Wednesday that at one point on Tuesday, 16 fires raged out of control at emergency level simultaneously across New South Wales state. State Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she was relieved that the destruction on Tuesday had not been worse.There were no fires burning at emergency level early Wednesday, but rain that would quench the fire danger is not forecast for months.

Sydney was shrouded in dangerous haze Tuesday as smoke from bushfires blazing along Australia 's eastern Official data showed that pollution had reached "hazardous" levels across Sydney , with the highest Bushfire -prone Australia has experienced a horror start to its fire season, which scientists

Sydney was shrouded in dangerous haze Tuesday as smoke from bushfires blazing along Australia 's eastern Official data showed that pollution had reached "hazardous" levels across Sydney , with the highest Bushfire -prone Australia has experienced a horror start to its fire season, which scientists

Workers heading into the city and children going to school donned masks to deal with the hazardous air quality while 55 bush and grass fires still burned across the state after two weeks.

The smoke haze brought with it particulate pollution, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream, a danger that the NSW Health Ministry said had resulted in rising numbers of people showing up at hospital emergency departments.

In some areas of NSW and South Australia state, officials were advising motorists to take care while driving because of reduced visibility.

CLIMATE POLITICS

Bushfires are not unusual in Australia but the fire season has begun much earlier than usual, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees C (104°F) well ahead of the start of the southern summer and high winds hitting a landscape that has been parched by three years of drought.

Bushfires have already left at least four people dead and destroyed more than 400 homes across two states since the start of November. Fires are still burning in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland states.

Helicopter crashes during Australia bushfire operation

  Helicopter crashes during Australia bushfire operation A helicopter crashed while being used to fight a bushfire in the northern Australian state of Queensland on Wednesday, a fire service official told AFP. "We're aware that the helicopter crashed during waterbombing operations at the Pechey fire today," the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service spokesperson said. "We are currently looking for further clarification regarding the pilot's condition."The state's fire and ambulance services were responding to the incident.

Sydney was shrouded in dangerous haze Tuesday as smoke from bushfires blazing along Australia 's eastern Official data showed that pollution had reached "hazardous" levels across Sydney , with the highest Bushfire -prone Australia has experienced a horror start to its fire season, which scientists

Bushfire smoke engulfs Sydney as scores treated for breathing difficulties. Air quality dropped to "hazardous" levels in the Sydney area overnight, according to the New South Wales Bureau of Meteorology.

"We have a long way to go," Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said on Australian Broadcasting Corp television.

Morrison on Friday again rejected any links between the fires and his conservative government's policies, including support for the coal industry.

"The suggestion that Australia, by having some trade-off where we could have higher emissions reduction targets, which would destroy jobs in regional communities, if we did that, then we wouldn't be having these fires. That is just not true," Morrison told 3AW radio.

Morrison's conservative government has committed to the Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030. Critics point out that current projections suggest it will not meet that target and have called on the government to put in place policies to address the shortfall.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Jane Wardell)

Global climate protests kick off in smoke-covered Sydney .
Protesters in smoke-covered Sydney kicked off a fresh round of global protests against climate change on Friday, with activists and schoolchildren picketing the headquarters of bushfire-ravaged Australia's ruling party. Hundreds of people gathered at the conservative Liberal party's offices, as protesters in several Asia-Pacific cities heeded the call to action from 16-year-old climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.

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