Smoke-hit Canberra choking in world's dirtiest air
Visitors to Parliament House forced to wear face masks after smoke from bushfires blankets Canberra in a haze with hazardous air quality, on Sunday. (Alex Ellinghausen / Sydney Morning Herald)
Canberrans have again woken up to the worst air quality in the
world, with parts of the city choking in pollution 12 times above minimum hazardous levels.
Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra have all at various times been smothered with smoke from the deadly bushfires over the past month.
This morning Canberra was easily ranked the worst city in the world for air quality once again, far ahead of Indian mega cities Kolkata and Delhi, in a top 10 rounded out with cities from China and Asia.
The hazardous air quality in the ACT has seen the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force advise their staff to stay home, instead of return to work after the Christmas shutdown period.
The Department of Health is relocating staff in Canberra to other offices in the city due to the smoke but is otherwise operating.
Qantas told nine.com.au flights in and out of the Australian capital were running as normal, following yesterday's mass cancellations because of the smoke.
Childcare centres, major museums and galleries and shops were also forced to close their doors because of stifling and poor air quality issues on Sunday. The Australian National University and the University of Canberra have both closed their campuses.
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Canberra's three air quality monitoring stations today recorded extremely high and hazardous readings of 2413, 1817 and 1503. A hazardous level is triggered at a reading of 200.
Social media has been full of images posted by Canberra residents showing the city blanketed in a thick orange haze.
Yesterday, Australia Post was forced to cancel all deliveries in the capital. They were unavailable for comment today, when contacted by nine.com.au. However, Australia Post's website stated ongoing bushfire activity had impacted operations in a number of locations in ACT, WA, Victoria and NSW.
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted the smoke over Canberra will likely remain for the coming days.
Air quality in Melbourne has also deteriorated in the past 24 hours, with warnings of "very poor" pollution levels in the city.
There are about 30 bushfires burning in Victoria, with parts of the state hit extremely hard over the Christmas and New Year period.
Sydney's air quality was forecast to be "poor" today.
The smoke from Australia's bushfires also delivered orange skies to New Zealand yesterday evening, prompting street lights to turn on and a flood of calls to emergency services.
Glaciers in New Zealand's South Island, more than 2200 kilometres away from Australia's east coast, have also been tinged orange.