Australian bush fire cloud visible in Chile and Argentina

Chile's capital, Santiago, wreathed in a cloud of smoke on Jan 6, 2020. The cloud poses no threat to Chileans. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SANTIAGO (AFP) - The cloud of smoke caused by raging bush fires in Australia has been spotted more than 12,000km away in Chile and Argentina, weather authorities in the South American countries said on Monday (Jan 6).

In the early hours, "the effect was seen in the sun through red tones. This effect was produced by a cloud of smoke that comes from the fires", Chile Meteorology chief Patricio Urra told AFP.

The cloud has risen to 6,000m above sea level and there is no meteorological reason for it to fall back to earth, said Mr Urra.

It poses no threat to Chileans.

The Argentine Meteorological Service published satellite images of the cloud, saying it had been "transported by frontal systems that move from west to east".

However, it added that all that would be visible was "a sun that's a little redder".

Regional meteorological company Metsul said the cloud could even reach the southern Rio Grande del Sur state in Brazil.

Catastrophic bush fires have turned swathes of Australia into smouldering, blackened hellscapes and destroyed an area about the size of the island of Ireland, according to official figures.

They have left 25 people dead and the authorities warn the disaster still has weeks or months to run.

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