Delhi residents spend Christmas indoors as smog emergency reaches fourth day

A residential building is shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 25, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 25 December 2018
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Delhi residents spend Christmas indoors as smog emergency reaches fourth day

  • Senior officials predicted the severe pollution would last another three days due to unusually stagnant and cold air
  • Some domestic and international flights were delayed for up to two hours due to poor visibility

NEW DELHI: Many Delhi residents were forced to spend Christmas indoors this year as air quality remained at “severe to emergency” levels for a fourth day, in the Indian capital’s worst smog crisis this year.
Senior officials predicted the severe pollution would last another three days due to unusually stagnant and cold air. They issued a three-day emergency response on Monday that included closing area factories and banning construction works.
“We are preferring to stay at home due to pollution despite Christmas celebrations and a public holiday,” said Amit Azad, a financial consultant. He bought an air purifier this week after developing a cough because of the smog.
A Delhi government official blamed the pollution for lighter-than-usual traffic on already holiday-thinned streets, while a Delhi airport official said some domestic and international flights were delayed for up to two hours due to poor visibility.
Delhi’s air quality index, which measures the concentration of poisonous particulate matter, averaged 420 on Tuesday morning, slightly better than 449-450 the previous two days — the worst this year — data from the government’s Central Pollution Control Board showed. A reading above 100 is considered unhealthy.
Delhi is ranked among the world’s worst cities in air quality, after years of breakneck growth in auto sales and coal-fired power generation.
Environmentalists say the federal and city governments, while focusing on temporary responses, are side-stepping more effective, long-term measures that would hit at the sources of pollution and promote cleaner fuels.
“There is a lack of political will to take required measures on a sustained basis to contain pollution levels,” said Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India. He called for higher car parking fees and reduced dependence on coal-fired power plants.
Dahiya also said the government should immediately close down schools and urge people to curtail outdoor activities given the serious health effects of the current pollution levels.


Three of four engines on stricken Norway cruise ship restarted

Updated 24 March 2019
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Three of four engines on stricken Norway cruise ship restarted

  • The Viking Sky lost power and started drifting mid-afternoon Saturday about two kilometers off More og Romsdal in dangerous waters and high seas
  • The captain forced to send out a distress call and trigger a massive airlift operation

OSLO: A cruise ship that broke down in rough seas off the Norwegian coast with some 1,300 passengers and crew on board has restarted three of its four engines and will be towed to port, emergency services said Sunday.
“Three of the four engines are now working which means the boat can now make way on its own,” emergency services spokesman Per Fjeld said.
The Viking Sky lost power and started drifting mid-afternoon Saturday about two kilometers (1.2 miles) off More og Romsdal in dangerous waters and high seas, prompting the captain to send out a distress call and trigger a massive airlift operation.
The airlift was continuing in the early morning, Fjeld said.
Police said 338 of the 1,373 people on board the Viking Sky had so far been taken off by helicopter.
The vessel is making slow headway at two to three knots (4-5 kilometers) an hour off the dangerous, rocky coast and a tug will help it toward the port of Molde, about 500 kilometers northwest of Oslo, officials said.
Police said that 17 people had been taken to hospital.
The passengers are mostly British or American, they added.