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Elderly, young to leave area near Australian mine fire burning for 3 weeks

Published on Feb 28, 2014 3:45 PM

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Children, the elderly and pregnant women have been urged to leave a small Australian town because of health concerns from a fire that has been burning at a nearby coal mine for almost three weeks.

Particulate pollution, which can damage the lungs and respiratory system, has been measured at more than 10 times the recommended daily threshold in the area around the fire near South Morwell, about 150 km east of the Victoria state capital of Melbourne.

The fire at the nearby Hazelwood coal mine, co-owned by GDF SUEZ Australian Energy and Mitsui & Co Ltd, has been burning since Feb 9.

State officials said on Friday that the elderly, young, pregnant women and those with respiratory problems should consider leaving the area because of the threat posed by smoke and ash.

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