Dense fog enveloped the Capital and other parts of North India for the second straight day on Thursday, affecting flights and slowing down road traffic during the morning rush hours.
In Mathura, one person died and 10 others were injured after a number of vehicles crashed into each other on the Yamuna expressway in the wee hours, news agency, ANI, reported.
Visibility was reduced to less than 50 metres in many parts of Delhi as people took to social media to complain about chaos at airports and railway stations, also posting photographs of fogged out streets.
Several airlines such as Vistara, IndiGo and Jet Airways warned of delays and divertions “due to the sudden drop in visibility”.
As many as four domestic arrivals at the Delhi airport have been diverted since morning while several others were delayed.
“CAT III B operations are on as visibility has been low. Over eight flights have been delayed, while four domestic arrivals have been diverted,” an airport official said. CAT III-B is used to help pilots land and take off in low visibility.
Experts fear the fog – which is forecast for the next few days – may cause a spike in air pollution levels. Hindustan Times air quality index showed the maximum “severe” rating at several places – the worst at Kashmiri Gate in north Delhi – with only three spots reporting clean air.
The weatherman has indicated that foggy conditions are likely to continue till Saturday.
The pollution levels have remained low through November because of unusually warm weather and high wind speeds but that may change soon.
Wind speeds have reduced drastically over the last few days, with the highest windspeed recorded at 6 kmph on Tuesday. The wind will also change direction and be more likely to blow from east and northeast directions starting 30th November to 3rd December.
The changed winds are expected to bring more moisture in, thereby reducing visibility in the region, according to a scientist at the Regional Meteorological Centre.
The ultra-fine particulate matter in the air, PM 2.5, was recorded at 151 microgram per cubic metre, whereas, the thicker particulates (PM 10) was recorded at 231 microgram per cubic metre.
The permissible limit for PM 2.5 is 60 ugm-3 and that for PM 10 is 100 ugm-3.
Punjab, Haryana affected
Dense fog in several areas of Haryana and Punjab affected life in both states on Thursday morning.
Road and rail services were affected with traffic moving slowly.
Reports from various places said that visibility was reduced to 50-200 metres at different places.
Hisar and its surrounding areas in Haryana were engulfed in thick fog on Thursday morning with visibility reduced to 50 to 100 metres.
Traffic movement on the busy National HIghway (NH-1), which runs through Punjab and Haryana, connecting Amritsar with Delhi, was also affected due to fog.
Moderate to dense fog was reported from several parts of the national capital region (NCR) in Haryana comprising districts of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Jhajjar, Hisar, Bhiwani, Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal and Rohtak.
Dense fog was also reported from several areas of the NH-1 between Ambala and Kundli border of Haryana and Delhi.
A few trains were running behind schedule due to the fog, officials said.
In Punjab, fog was reported from Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar districts.
(With inputs from agencies)