World

Smoke from Australia bushfires reaches Brazil

Smoke from Australia bushfires reaches Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Smoke from bushfires raging across Australia reached Brazil on Tuesday, an arm of the National Institute for Space Research said on Twitter. 

Referring to satellite images, the agency's Department of Remote Sensing said the smoke had arrived in Brazil's southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. 

Private meteorological company MetSul also tweeted about the arrival of a smoke cloud to Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, but emphasized that "the presence of smoke from Australia in the air is almost imperceptible, despite the satellite showing smoke in the atmosphere over the great Porto Alegre."

Chile's meteorological service said Monday that smoke from the fires was visible in Chile and Argentina. 

That means the hazy cloud of smoke, sitting at about 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) in the air, traveled more than 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) to reach South America. 

But the drifting smoke won't negatively affect the health of the continent's inhabitants, the Chilean service said. 

Fires ravaging Australia since September have left 24 people dead and destroyed some eight million hectares (80,000 square kilometers) of land—an area the size of Ireland or the US state of South Carolina.

After a catastrophic weekend, Australian firefighters—supported by US and Canadian forces—welcomed rain and a drop in temperatures to boost their efforts early in the week before another heat wave is expected in the coming days.  

Reserve troops have been deployed to help throughout the country, and the government has earmarked an initial Aus$2 billion ($1.4 billion) for a national recovery fund for devastated communities.