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Melbourne smothered in smoke as bushfires burn

Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck
January 14, 2020 08:26 IST
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Health warnings were issued after a thick haze from the bushfires in Victoria descended on Melbourne Tuesday morning, reducing the air quality in the Australian city to the "worst in the world".

IMAGE: Melbourne commuters walk wearing a mask as the city suffers hazardous air quality oin Melbourne, Australia. Air quality levels have dropped to hazardous on Tuesday as bushfire smoke from ongoing fires in East Gippsland has blown into the city. Photograph: Luis Ascui/Getty Images

Melbourne's air quality went down overnight to "hazardous" due to bushfire smoke.

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said, "I think overnight for Melbourne it did reach the worst in the world."


Sutton said warmer temperatures would help lift "particulate matter" that had resulted in the poor air quality.

IMAGE: The bushfires in Australia as seen from space. Photograph: @EuropeanSpaceAgency/Facebook

He warned that people might experience a worsening cough and a dry nose and throat.

"For those vulnerable groups -- over 65s, under 15s, pregnant women and people with existing lung/heart disease or diabetes -- we are saying avoid exposure to the smoke by staying indoors and limiting physical activity," he said.

According to the Environmental Protection Authority's AirWatch website, the air quality in Melbourne was "very poor'' and visibility down to 900 metres in some parts of inner Melbourne Tuesday morning.

IMAGE: A woman walk past a mural depicting a Koala and firefighters as the city suffers hazardous air quality in Melbourne, Australia. Photograph: Luis Ascui/Getty Images

Sixteen fires were still burning and 1.4 million hectares have been destroyed across Victoria.

The entire state was choking under a blanket of bushfire smoke, including Geelong town, the Latrobe Valley, Central Victoria, Gippsland and the North Central regions, considered to have "hazardous" air quality at 7 am (local time).

In Melbourne's Central Business District, the smoke was measured at "hazardous" levels between 12 am and 4 am (local time).

While heart and respiratory patients were being told to keep safe, the healthy were being warned to stay inside.

IMAGE: A plume of bushfire smoke rises above Mount Taylor Road bordering local farm land in Karatta, Australia. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

ABC report said several outdoor suburban swimming pools were shut down and horse races at Werribee suburb were also cancelled.

Australian Open organisers also temporarily suspended qualifying matches and player practice sessions for Tuesday morning.

Sutton said people in East Gippsland and the state's north-east, where poor to hazardous air quality is likely to remain for some time, should try to let fresh air into their homes when possible.

"When conditions are good … that's the time to open doors and windows to air your house, to get the smoke out and then when the air quality's poor, close doors and windows, stay inside, minimise your activity," he said.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck© Copyright 2020 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.