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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 8 March 2021

Cold comfort for Northern India as it shivers into new year

Air pollution and cold weather created a chilly smog in New Delhi

Northern India shivered into the new year as cold temperatures continued in the region and an opaque, chilly smog enveloped New Delhi.

Air pollution has exacerbated the problem in India’s capital, with visibility reduced to only 200 metres across many other cities across the region, the India Meteorological Department said.

In Greater Noida, a city in Uttar Pradesh, six people were killed when their car crashed into a canal, with a police spokesman blaming the accident on the poor visibility.

With overnight temperatures in New Delhi dropping to 1°C overnight, street vendors, auto rickshaw drivers and the homeless wore hooded sweaters and wrapped themselves in blankets as they warmed their hands over small fires.

The fires worsened New Delhi’s notorious winter air pollution, with the air quality index – a measure of ozone, carbon dioxide and particulate matter – topping 500 at a monitor at the US embassy, 10 times what the World Health Organisation considers safe.

Pollution has made the air colder, mixing with moisture under low wind conditions to create low-altitude clouds stretching from eastern Pakistan to India’s eastern state of Bihar, said Rajendra Kumar Jenamani, a scientist with the India Meteorological Department.

More than 40 flights were cancelled and 650 flights delayed at New Delhi's Indira Ghandi International Airport on Monday as the smog settled over the city.

The cold and fog were expected to continue through New Year’s Day, government weather data showed.

"New Year’s Day is likely to be slightly better, with the maximum rising to around 14 degrees," Kuldeep Srivastava, head of IMD’s regional weather forecasting centre, he said.

Updated: January 1, 2020 10:59 AM

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