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Fog hits air, train services in Delhi

On New Year's day, dense fog forces airport officials to reschedule flights.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2007 23:23 IST

Fog played havoc in the Indian capital on New Year's day, badly disrupting air and rail services and reducing visibility on the roads to a few metres for the better part of the day.

Air and rail travellers in Delhi had a harrowing time at the start of the New Year as 16 domestic flights were cancelled and over 20 trains delayed due to poor visibility.

Many Delhi-bound trains were delayed by between two to 10 hours, a Northern Railways spokesperson said.

At the airport, dense fog had begun settling in from Sunday night forcing airport authorities to reschedule several departure flights and divert many others.

"As the runway visibility was below 200 metres, we had to divert 24 domestic and 12 international flights, mainly to Jaipur, Lucknow, Mumbai and Ahmedabad," said a spokesperson of the Delhi International Airport Limited.

Eleven domestic flights were rescheduled on Monday morning. There was no flight movement after 10 pm on Sunday till 7 am on Monday morning.

After thick fog enveloped the airport, the authorities put in force their special services like opening the runway that allows flights to land and take off even during fog. It helped seven domestic and 16 international flights arrive as well as eight domestic and five international flights take off.

"Currently the runway visibility is above around 1,000 metres and flights have started taking off at regular intervals. Since morning, 45 domestic flights have taken off and an equal number have arrived. A total of 30 international flights have landed and another 15 have taken off," said the airport spokesman.

Authorities further said that they have made additional seating facilities outside terminal IB and opened additional food and beverage counters for passengers' comfort. However, passengers, who either waited for several hours inside the airport or stayed on board the aircraft, did not agree with what they said.

"It's really pathetic to stay onboard throughout the night in the New Year. First the plane hovered around the Delhi airport for nearly two hours and later got diverted towards Mumbai. But half an hour later, it was announced that we are heading for Kolkata," said a passenger of Malaysian Airlines.

The angry passenger said that fog and poor management spoilt their New Year celebration.

The trains delayed included the Mahananda Express, Farakha Express, Sadbhawana Express, Jammu Mail, Jammu Tawi Jaipur Express and Mumbai-Delhi August Kranti. The Guwahati-Delhi Rajdhani, Bhubaneshwar-Delhi Rajdhani and Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani were also delayed.

The fog situation is unlikely to improve on Tuesday even, the India Meteorological Department has forecast.

"The capital will experience a foggy day tomorrow," an IMD official said, adding that the minimum temperature will hover around 8 degrees Celsius till Wednesday morning.

On Monday, the national capital recorded a minimum temperature of 8.7 degrees Celsius, two degrees above normal. However, the weatherman said the mercury would dip after Wednesday.

New Year revellers had a torrid time returning home from parties after midnight as a thick shroud of fog made driving virtually impossible in the capital.

Said Gautam Sen, a young professional, who had driven to a party Sunday night with friends: "We had to stay back at our friend's place where we had gone as we could not spot our car in the dense fog when we came out.

"Driving back at that hour would have been simply hazardous. This was probably the worst fog I have seen this year in Delhi."

Rohit Tiwari, who was returning from work from a call centre in Gurgaon in an auto-rickshaw said: "The auto-driver was constantly losing his way as visibility was very poor. A distance that should have otherwise taken 45 minutes took us two hours."