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Sydney hit by dust again

world Updated: Sep 26, 2009 12:50 IST

Sydney was again bathed in an eerie glow on Saturday as dust from Australia's red desert centre settled over the city for the second time this week.

Wild winds whipped up dust storms across Queensland and New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, overnight, bringing fresh clouds of grit from thousands of kilometres away, the weather bureau said.

Satellite pictures showed a band of dust about 200 kilometres (125 miles) wide, sweeping from central Australia towards the east coast, with visibility in Sydney limited to five kilometres, said forecaster Barry Hanstrum.

"We've got an area of widespread dust but not as thick as it was on Wednesday," said Hanstrum, referring to the freak red storm that choked Sydney earlier this week.

"It's likely to clear through the metropolitan area through mid-morning."

Millions of tons of dust smothered north-eastern Australia in a rust-red dawn Wednesday which ground air and harbour transport to a halt and left hundreds of people hospitalised with breathing problems.

Strong winds following the hottest August on record sucked up dust from a decade-long drought in what experts said was the biggest such incident to hit Sydney since 1942.

In the central western mining town of Broken Hill, which was in the eye of the storm, day became night as dust all but obliterated the sun from the sky.

Dust was seen there again Saturday and residents in the town of Young, further east, said plumes were sweeping through the streets.

"Standing outside my place now looking at the clock tower, it's about half a kilometre away. You can just see it, with the thickness of it, you can just see the town lights," said Young man BJ Wyse.

"It's just like a red glow. I just talked to a friend of mine in Cootamundra and it's going through there as well, so yep, it's back again," he told state radio.