Delhi bans trucks as world’s most polluted major city chokes

Delhi was among 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of the 20 most polluted cities across the globe this year. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Delhi bans trucks as world’s most polluted major city chokes

  • The restriction on the nearly 40,000 medium and heavy lorries that enter Delhi every day was imposed late Thursday
  • Delhi was among 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of the 20 most polluted cities across the globe this year
NEW DELHI: Delhi authorities have imposed a three-day ban on trucks entering the world’s most polluted major city as its 20 million inhabitants wheezed in the toxic annual winter smog.
With levels of air pollution classed as “hazardous,” the restriction on the nearly 40,000 medium and heavy lorries that enter Delhi every day was imposed late Thursday.
The transport ministry said that vehicles carrying food and other essentials were exempted, while appealing to private owners of diesel sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to leave their cars at home.
Delhi’s air quality typically worsens in winter, as clouds of smoke from farmers’ fires billow into the city and mix with industrial and traffic emissions to form a noxious cocktail.
On Wednesday night Delhites largely defied a court order and set off an immense barrage of smoke-spewing firecrackers to celebrate the major Hindu festival of Diwali, sending pollution levels soaring.
On Friday, levels of particulates 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, the most harmful to human health, peaked at 845, according to the US embassy website that monitors air quality independently.
The “hazardous” figure is roughly 33 times the World Health Organization safe limit of 25 and health experts advise people to stay indoors or use masks for protection.
Vehicles on Delhi roads generate roughly 20 percent of these tiny particles in air, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream and which are linked to chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease.
Authorities in the previous years have rationed private car use and imposed shutdowns on industrial units and coal-run power plants, as well as taxes on lorries to discourage them from using Delhi as a transit route.
Delhi was among 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of the 20 most polluted cities across the globe this year issued by the WHO.


20 dead, 60 burned in fire at tap on Mexico fuel pipeline

This handout photo distributed by the Mexican Secretary of National Defence (Secretaria de Defensa Nacional) shows Mexican soldiers standing guard near a fire after a leaking gas pipeline triggered a blaze in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, on January 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 10 min 30 sec ago
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20 dead, 60 burned in fire at tap on Mexico fuel pipeline

  • Video from the scene earlier in the day showed what appeared to be gasoline spouting dozens of feet into the air

MEXICO CITY: MEXICO CITY: A huge fire exploded at a pipeline leaking fuel in central Mexico on Friday, killing at least 20 people and badly burning 60 others as locals collected the spilling gasoline in buckets, officials said.
The leak was caused by fuel thieves illegally tapping the pipeline in a small town in the state of Hidalgo, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Mexico City, according to state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.
Video footage showed dozens of residents near the town of Tlahuelilpan gathered to collect spilled fuel in buckets, garbage cans and other vessels. Fuel was seen spouting dozens of feet into the air from the tap. Footage then showed flames shooting high into the air against a night sky and the pipeline ablaze.
Hidalgo Gov. Omar Fayad said 20 people were killed immediately and 60 suffered burns in the blast at the duct that carries fuel — apparently gasoline — from the Gulf coast to the Mexico City area.
“Caring for the wounded is our top priority,” Fayad said.
Pemex attributed the blaze to “the manipulation of an illegal tap.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has declared an offensive against fuel theft, and on Friday he called on all branches of government to assist the victims.
Hidalgo state police said the leak was first reported at about 5:00 p.m. local time.
“There was a report that residents were on the scene trying to obtain fuel,” according to a police report. Two hours later, the pipeline burst into flames.
It is not the first time such an accident has occurred.
In December 2010, authorities blamed oil thieves for a pipeline explosion in a central Mexico near the capital that killed 28 people, including 13 children.
That blast burned people and scorched homes, affecting 5,000 residents in an area six miles (10 kilometers) wide in San Martin Texmelucan.
Lopez Obrador launched an offensive against the $3 billion per-year fuel theft industry after taking office Dec. 1. Thieves drilled about 12,581 illegal taps in the first 10 months of 2018 and the country has deployed 3,200 marines to guard pipelines and refineries.
The new administration has also shut down pipelines to detect and deter illegal taps, relying more on delivering fuel by tanker truck. But there aren’t enough trucks, and long lines at gas stations have plagued several states.