Fog, cold wave force flight delays, school closures in India

New Delhi, Jan 9 (EFE).- A thick fog enveloping the Indian capital and several northern regions on Monday forced the delay of more than 100 flights in New Delhi amid worsening cold wave conditions.

The weather conditions have forced the closure of schools in New Delhi and its suburbs.

The national capital registered visibility of just 200 meters in the early morning hours, with roads and buildings blanketed under a blinding fog cover that slowed down traffic in the city of more than 20 million residents.

“Due to dense fog, flight operations at the Delhi airport may get affected,” the airport warned in an early morning alert on Twitter.

It asked passengers to contact the airlines for updated flight information.

As cold wave conditions persisted and fog cover thickened, more than 100 domestic flights delayed their departures and arrivals at the airport due to low visibility, according to the authorities.

New Delhi’s met department recorded a low of 3.7 degrees Celsius on Monday after five consecutive days of colder-than-usual temperatures — three to four degrees below the normal of 8 degrees.

“The minimum temperature… has fallen by 2-4°C over most parts of central, west and adjoining north peninsular India during past 24 hours,” the Indian met office said in a weather bulletin on Monday.

The city government in Delhi urged all private schools to remain closed until January 15 due to the cold wave.

Foggy conditions, exacerbated by alarming pollution levels, are frequent during the winter months in north India.

Visibility can drop to a few meters, especially during the first hour of the morning, which not only affects air transport but also paralyzes rail and road traffic.

At 422, the concentration of PM2.5 in New Delhi is more than 28 times higher than the recommended limit by the WHO air quality guidelines.

Fine particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter is the most dangerous pollutant because it can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the blood system, causing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer.

The WHO guidelines state that annual average concentrations of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air, while 24-hour average exposures should not exceed 15 micrograms per cubic meter more than 3–4 days per year. EFE


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