SYDNEY • A dust storm that engulfed parts of Australia's outback has swept through the country's biggest city, sparking public health warnings over poor air quality.
Sydney was blanketed in thick haze yesterday morning as the storm front, caused by strong winds whipping up dust in drought-affected areas, made its way through the city. By late afternoon, skies over the central business district were much clearer.
Air quality was rated as very poor in the east and south-west regions of the city and hazardous in the north-west by the state environment department, which warned people with heart or lung disease to stay indoors.
Mr Adam Morgan of the Bureau of Meteorology said a low pressure system over South Australia and Victoria states had pushed strong winds across areas of western New South Wales that have experienced one of the worst drought seasons in years.
"This is the typical time of year for dust storms through inland Australia, but it is quite rare for dust to reach the east coast," he said.
Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet and farmers in parts of the country have been struggling amid severe drought conditions for much of the year.
BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE