As the extreme bushfires in Southern Australia continue, travelers on one flight in the city of Canberra documented a rare and terrifying spectacle created by the region’s devastating climate disaster.
The flight, en route from Melbourne to Australia’s capital provided passengers with an ominous aerial view of the bushfires below, which cast an all-consuming glow visible through the airplane windows.
“The scariest flight that I’ve ever taken so far – flying from Melbourne to Canberra today,” wrote one passenger, @huatuostudio on Instagram, posting a photo that showed an opaque orange scene surrounding the plane. “We got hit by a smoke storm. It was orange outside of the window then suddenly it was black, and then the turbulence hit… I was jumping off my seat!”
The caption continued: “We circled Canberra for a while and our captain assured us that we had enough to go back to Melbourne if we can’t land. I was pretty sure at that point that I didn’t want to stay another hour in flight … crazy!”
The plane managed to land safely about 90 minutes later than expected. The passenger concluded the caption by saying those on board were “grateful” and “thanked the pilots.”
Flights at Canberra’s airport have since been canceled.
Another Instagram user, @krissy.marieeee, shared a photo from a different flight on the tarmac the previous day. “Touchdown in Canberra – the bushfire smoke haze is absolutely wild,” she wrote alongside the orange-tinged image.
Yet another traveler documented a trip from Canberra to Melbourne on January 4, during which they could see what appeared to be thick, large smoke trails billowing from the ground below.
“I don’t know how much of it is smoke and how much of it is cloud, but it looked incredibly solid. I wonder if these are the places it went pitch black,” wrote the traveler on Twitter.
The passenger added in a separate tweet: “The country looks like ten or fifteen volcanoes have gone off.”
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According to my phone, this was over Dandongadale pic.twitter.com/hH1FMchaa7— Merrin Macleod (@merxplat) January 4, 2020
The fires have killed at least 17 places and displaced thousands more since September. They have also wiped out 11 millions acres and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings. A seven-day state of emergency was declared on Dec. 23.
As the more than 130 fires continue to burn across New South Wales and Victoria, ecologists from the University of Sydney believe almost half a billion animals have died.
As of Thursday, there were 2,000 firefighters working in New South Wales alone, with additional help arriving from the United States, Canada and New Zealand.