Sydney blanketed in thick smoke as wildfire crisis continues

10 December 2019, 14:25

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Sydney has once again been blanketed by smoke in what is being described as the "worst" case of wildfires to hit the city since the crisis began in November.

Sydney's air quality index (AQI) reached 12 times the hazardous level on Tuesday as a thick smog remained trapped over the Australian city.

Still weather conditions meant that smoke which had descended from other parts of New South Wales continued looming over the state capital.

Dr Richard Broome, from the NSW Health department, said Sydney was suffering "some of the worst air quality we've seen."

Sydney's iconic landmarks were clouded by smoke
Sydney's iconic landmarks were clouded by smoke. Picture: PA

"The smoke here in Sydney is extremely bad today. We are urging people to take this seriously," Dr Broome told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Ferries from the harbour were cancelled and buses were brought in to transport regular ferry users due to visibility reaching as low as 500 metres.

One major ferry route, between the city and the northern beachside suburb of Manly, was reopened late Tuesday afternoon.

The inner suburb of Rozelle recorded an AQI of 2,552 on Tuesday afternoon, a staggering 12 times higher than what is considered "hazardous."

Sydney Cricket Ground was covered in smoke during a game
Sydney Cricket Ground was covered in smoke during a game. Picture: PA

A total of 85 fires were burning across the state with 42 of them classed as uncontained, the NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed.

People in the city took to wearing face masks due to the dense smoke engulfing Sydney.

Health authorities have issued warnings to ensure city folk use effective masks that are worn properly.

"The evidence is that whilst they can be effective, they might not be providing the benefits that people think they are," Dr Broome said.

The fire services have been stretched across New South Wales
The fire services have been stretched across New South Wales. Picture: PA

The State Library was inviting people in as officials urged those affected to stay indoors.

Former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, who is touring the country, tweeted: "Sydney looks spooky."

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) warned that people should not be working outdoors unless it was unavoidable.

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus tweeted: "Here is some context to today's highest Air Quality Index reading of 2100 in Sydney. The city coming in second is New Delhi on 670. No one should be working outside unless you are emergency services."