All schools and colleges in Delhi will remain shut till Sunday due to alarming levels of pollution, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced on Wednesday, while nine people were killed in Punjab in an accident caused due to low visibility as dense smog and fog continues to engulf north India.
“Delhi’s air quality is getting worse. In this situation, there can be no compromise on children’s health,” Sisodia, also the Education Minister, said in a tweet.
The directive came as the air quality in Delhi and NCR dropped to the “severe” level with an average range of dangerous PM2.5 particles measured at 475 micrograms per cubic meter in the region.
The “severe” level between 400 and 500 of PM2.5 “affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases”, according to Central Pollution Control Board.
Dense fog claimed nine young lives in Punjab’s Bathinda district on Wednesday morning when a cement-mixer truck ploughed through them in low visibility on a flyover on the Bathinda-Chandigarh highway, police said.
Five others were injured in the horrific accident as the truck driver apparently failed to see them due to virtual zero visibility. The truck driver fled from the scene after the accident.
The victims, who were students of different colleges and coaching classes in Bathinda, belonged to Rampura Phul town in Bathinda district. The accident took place near Bathinda town, around 230 km from Chandigarh.
The students were earlier travelling in a bus but got off when it got involved in an accident with another bus on the highway. As they alighted from the bus, the truck came from behind and crushed them, a police officer said.
The multiple accidents happened within a span of 10 minutes, police said. The victims were rushed to nearby hospitals. Rescue operations were hampered by dense fog. Bathinda Deputy Commissioner Diprava Lakra and police chief Naveen Singla rushed to the spot.
Some students saved themselves by jumping from the flyover as the truck came towards them, said a survivor, Prince.
Nearly a dozen other vehicles were involved in a major pile-up on the same flyover, just a few metres from the accident spot.
Four people were killed in a collision between a Punjab Roadways bus and a truck in neighbouring Ferozepur district on Tuesday.
Dense fog and smog has engulfed Delhi, Punjab and Haryana since the past one week, reducing visibility to 5-10 metres, leading to accidents and pile-ups of vehicles.