Elderly woman dies after deboarding plane to bushfire-smoke choked Canberra

Canberra's air quality is now the worst in the world

smoke-bushfire-canberra-road-pollution-Reuters Smoke covers the highway from Canberra to Cooma | Linsay Patterson/via Reuters

As raging bushfires across Australia triggered air pollution in the Australian capital city of Canberra at levels worse than in Delhi or Mumbai, an elderly woman has reportedly died after disembarking a plane there, on account of a respiratory-related ailment.

According to The New Daily, the woman was on a Qantas plane travelling from Brisbane. She was alive when she left the plane, but her relatives say she went into respiratory distress after disembarking.

Emergency personnel were called to assist her, but she perished at around 4.15pm.

According to news.com.au, Qantas has denied that any passengers were sick on board their flights.

The US Air Quality Index (AQI) has Canberra at 510 at present,worse than Delhi (4550, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia (412) and Lahore (272). A ‘moderate’ and safe level of AQI would be between 50 and 100.

The smoke hovering over Canberra has affected everything: Postal services in and out of the city have been cancelled, and the Canberra Hospital reportedly is unable to use its MRI machines until the smokes wanes. 

Australia ordered the forced evacuation of thousands of residents of fire-affected coastal communities on Thursday, as the coming weekend promises another heat-wave and potentially greater fires.

The region of New South Wales has declared a seven-day state of emergency allowing for forced evacuations from the country’s most populated region. Mass evacuations are also taking place in Victoria.

By Thursday morning, the fires had already led to the deaths of 18, as the country reels from what is believed to be its deadliest bushfire yet.

Forest and fire expert Dr Tom Fairman posted a Twitter thread on how these bush fires were more expansive than those seen in earlier decades.

Nearly six million hectares of land have burned down since November 2019, with over half a billion plants and animals dead as a result, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney. This number includes the deaths of 8,000 koala whose main habitat was the South Wales region.