Here’s what you need to know this morning.

City trapped by the smoke haze

Air quality readings in Sydney have reached “dangerous” levels due to a smoky haze that has blanketed the region.

Data on the NSW Department of the Environment website showed that residents in eastern Sydney were at particular risk.

People suffering from heart or lung disease, the elderly and children have been advised to avoid exercising outdoors.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said the smoke was caused by wildfires running wild in the north of the state and burning operations around Sydney.

Collision of several M1 trucks

Firefighters hosing down a line of smoking trucks
All lanes of the M1 were closed earlier.(ABC News)

A northbound lane on the M1 motorway remains closed after a four truck accident on the central coast of New South Wales this morning.

All lanes were closed early after a B-double collided with three parked trucks at a roadworks zone in Halloran, 30km north of Gosford.

The truck then caught fire and spread to the other three trucks.

NSW Police said the driver was taken to hospital with a sore shoulder and for a mandatory test, and four road workers were being treated for minor injuries and shock.

Koala habitat devastated by bushfires

Koala in Port Macquarie
Rescuers said they were unable to help the trapped koalas due to the intensity of the fire.(ABC News: Emma Siossian)

Hundreds of koalas are believed to have perished after the Crestwood Road bushfire devastated a koala habitat near Port Macquarie yesterday.

Cheyne Flanagan, who runs the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, said staff were unable to enter the area to rescue the trapped koalas due to the intensity of the flames.

“I think this is just a national tragedy that we have potentially lost a huge population of animals in the last 24 hours,” he said.

Steady windy conditions throughout the night also created difficult conditions for the 12 firefighting aircraft and 100 firefighters battling the blazes.

Residents of Kendall, Herons Creek, Kew and Bobs Creek were told to remain vigilant overnight as embers spewing from the fire posed a fire hazard.

Dust storm hazard

A surfer heads into the water as a dust storm blankets Bondi Beach in Sydney on September 23, 2009.
Sydney woke up to a red haze in September 2009, but dust levels are worse now.(Tracey NearmyAAP)

The prevalence of dust storms in New South Wales is worse than it was in 2009, when Sydney was shrouded in a translucent red haze.

The Environment and Heritage Office said dust activity in September doubled from August, with all monitoring sites in the state recording an average of 35 hours of dust.

However, while the 2009 Sydney dust storm was blamed on hurricane-force winds, the department said western New South Wales had its lowest volume of vegetation cover on record this year, fueling dust activity.

Rockpool protests

Rohit Karki wears a black suit and stands in front of Melbourne Federal Court with his hands clasped in front of him.
Rohit Karki alleges that Rockpool Dining Group owes him at least $100,000 in back payments.(ABC News: Nicole Asher)

Unions representing hospitality workers are demonstrating outside Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney, which has been accused of defrauding staff out of at least $10m in unpaid wages.

The union said the Rockpool group had become involved in “one of the most egregious cases of wage theft Australia has yet seen”.

He said the high-end restaurant had rigged time sheets, was underpaying staff and exploiting immigrant workers.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has lodged a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman on behalf of the union.

Satisfaction with cancer treatment

Cancer patients in NSW have been surveyed about the care they received in the healthcare system, with the vast majority rating it positively.

Patients were asked about their care several months after receiving treatment, and most said they were treated with respect and dignity, and their treatment was explained in an understandable manner.

But cancer director Professor David Currow said there were areas for improvement, and some patients who had experienced complications said medical staff could have been more open with them about the problem.

“There is no question … we can involve them more in joint decision-making and we can ensure that there is honesty and openness, particularly in difficult conversations,” he said.

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