Dust Turns Sydney Red

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September 23, 2009—Australia's worst dust storm in 70 years blanketed east coast cities in outback grit and cast an orange glow over Sydney at dawn Wednesday morning.

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

Unedited Transcript

Australia's worst dust storm in 70 years blanketed the countrys east coast Wednesday in a cloud of red Outback grit. The reddish pall swept into the cities of Sydney and Brisbane overnight, bringing an eerie orange dawn to Sydney.

SOUNDBITE: (English) Vox Pop, No Name Given: "The color was amazing, I've never seen it, I'm 72-years-old and I've never seen that in my life before. It's the first time ever. So, it's really a phenomenon."

Dust from the Lake Eyre basin in Queensland, parched even further by the worst drought on record, covered dozens of towns and cities as strong winds snatched up tons of sediment, threw it high into the sky and carried it hundreds of miles.

Flight departing the Sydney airport were delayed and inbound flights were diverted.

Experts at the New South Wales Department of Climate Change and Weather said particle concentration in Sydney's air rose to the highest on record. Some joggers and people with asthma were suffering breathing problems.

SOUNDBITE: (English) Gordian Fulder, St. Vincents Hospital: "It's been unbelievable, from nearly the crack of dawn, we've had joggers come in, fit young men and women who have just had real trouble breathing and we've had to treat them."

People with respiratory conditions were advised to be cautious.

The sky over the Queensland state capital of Brisbane was clogged with dust into the afternoon.

Drivers switched on their headlights and police warned them to slow down as dust darkened the skies.

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