Australian bushfire cloud visible in Chile and Argentina

A satellite image on January 3, 2020 shows bushfire smoke (bottom right) drifting off the coast of southeast New South Wales, Australia -- a cloud of smoke from the blazes has been spotted on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
PHOTO: Japan Meteorological Agency

The cloud of smoke caused by raging bushfires in Australia has been spotted more than 12,000 kilometres away in Chile and Argentina, weather authorities in the South American countries said on Monday.

In the early hours "the effect was seen in the sun through red tones. This effect was produced by a cloud of smoke that comes from the fires," Chile Meteorology chief, Patricio Urra, told AFP.

The cloud has risen to 6,000 metres above sea level and there is no meteorological reason for it to fall back to earth, said Urra.

It poses no threat to Chileans.

The Argentine Meteorological Service published satellite images of the cloud saying it had been "transported by frontal systems that move from west to east."

However, it added that all that would be visible was "a sun that's a little redder."

Regional meteorological company Metsul said the cloud could even reach Rio Grande del Sur state in Brazil.

Catastrophic bushfires have turned swathes of Australia into smouldering, blackened hellscapes and destroyed an area about the size of the island of Ireland, according to official figures.

They have left 25 people dead and authorities warn the disaster still has weeks or months to run.