Auckland, Jan 5 (IANS) Thick smoke from the raging bushfires in neighbouring Australia on Sunday turned the skyline of New Zealand’s Auckland city to an ‘eerie’ shade of orange.
New Zealand meteorology service MetService in its forecast said that an upper level jet of westerly winds was driving the smoke across the Tasman Sea towards New Zealand, reports Xinhua news agency.
The smoke was expected to arrive Sunday evening and was likely to disperse by Monday morning.
It is the second layer of smoke coming from the Australian bushfires, which is covering the North Island and upper parts of the South Island.
Much of the South Island awoke to sepia skies on New Year’s Day before the smoke spread to the North Island.
MetService said it was possible that people would be able to smell and taste the smoke.
However, long-lasting health effects are not expected.
On Friday, the New Zealand government pledged 22 more firefighters to help fight the destructive bushfires in Australia that has so far claimed the lives of 21 people since they started in September 2019.
Also on Sunday, New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark said that three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, two Army Combat Engineer Sections as well as a command element will be sent to Australia next week.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) support will deploy by Australian Defence Force C-17 and New Zealand Defence Force C-130 from Ohakea Airforce Base on a number of flights from Monday to Wednesday.
“The latest NZDF support is being provided in addition to the latest rotation of five NZDF firefighters deployed to bolster numbers of emergency responders on the ground,” said the defence minister.
It is understood that many of the NZDF personnel were called back during their holiday leaves to assist Australian firefighting.