Sydney glows red under outback dust storm
A huge outback dust storm has swept across eastern Australia, blanketing Sydney in a red glow.
The storm has forced people indoors and stripped thousands of tonnes of valuable farmland topsoil away. The dust blacked out the town of Broken Hill in the outback on Tuesday, forcing a zinc mine to shut down. It then swept 725 miles east, to shroud Sydney with red dust.
International flights were diverted from Sydney, ferries on Sydney Harbour were suspended and commuter motorists warned to take care on roads as visibility was dramatically reduced. The dust set off smoke alarms in some buildings in Sydney's central business district and brought construction to a halt.
By noon on Wednesday the dust storm had spread to the southern part of Australia's tropical state of Queensland. Dust storms are not unusual in Australia, which is the world's driest inhabited continent. However, they are normally restricted to the inland areas, only reaching the coast during widespread drought.
Australia is battling one of its worst droughts and weather officials say an 'El Nino' is slowly developing in the Pacific which will mean drier conditions for eastern states. The country is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change, but also the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter per capita, as it relies on coal-fired power stations for the bulk of its electricity.