Indian court bans firecracker sales in smog-hit Delhi

In this Oct. 31, 2016 photo, Indians walk to work as Delhi traffic police officers manage an intersection enveloped by smoke and smog, on the morning following Diwali festival in New Delhi, India. (AP)
Updated 25 November 2016

Indian court bans firecracker sales in smog-hit Delhi

NEW DELHI: India’s top court ordered a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers in New Delhi on Friday, after air quality reached crisis levels in the world’s most polluted capital.
The order came weeks after the Supreme Court criticized the federal government for failing to do more to tackle pollution, which it described as a “public health emergency.”
“(The) Supreme Court directs suspension of licenses for possessing, stocking and selling firecrackers in Delhi-National Capital Region til further orders,” the court said.
It also ordered the Central Pollution Control Board, a government body, to study the harmful effects of materials used in firecrackers and report back within the next three months.
Air quality in Delhi plummeted earlier this month as millions of people set off heavily polluting firecrackers to celebrate the Diwali festival, exacerbating existing problems from the burning of crop stubble in neighboring states.
The concentration of PM2.5 — the fine particles linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease — reached “hazardous” levels in the first 10 days of November.
Local authorities announced a series of emergency measures shutting schools and banning construction and the use of diesel generators in the city.
Schools have since reopened after air quality levels improved, and some of the other measures have been rowed back.


Afghan security forces fail to reach ‘Taliban-mined’ site of US military plane crash

Updated 5 min 26 sec ago

Afghan security forces fail to reach ‘Taliban-mined’ site of US military plane crash

  • Probe launched into cause of Monday’s incident as Taliban claim responsibility for shooting down jet

KABUL: Afghan security forces have so far been unable to reach the crash site of a US military aircraft which went down during a mission on Monday in a Taliban-controlled area of the country.
An investigation is underway to determine what caused the Bombardier E-11A plane to crash in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, about 120 km southwest of Kabul, although the Taliban have claimed responsibility for shooting it down.

“The Taliban have mined the area, and security forces could not make it to the site to retrieve the bodies and recover the aircraft last evening. The Taliban had laid an ambush as security forces tried to reach the site,” Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of Ghazni’s provincial council, told Arab News.
He added that other US aircraft had attempted to land in the area overnight but were forced back due to bad weather.
Aref Noori, a spokesman for Ghanzi’s governor, said: “Afghan and foreign forces are preparing a joint plan to go to the site to see what they can do.”
Authorities have yet to determine how many passengers and crew were on board.
Several members of the provincial council said they had heard from locals that four people on board the plane had escaped the site of the crash soon after it came down. However, the reports could not be confirmed by the US military or other officials.
The crash comes amid a push by the Taliban and US diplomats to restart peace talks which are aimed at ending the 18-year-old conflict in the country.