Fog, chilly winds envelop capital, over 200 flights disrupted (Third Lead)

January 21st, 2012 - 12:16 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Dense fog enveloped the capital Friday, seriously disrupting train and air traffic, while icy winds through the day left people shivering and praying for the sun. A total of 200 domestic and international flights were affected.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Saturday morning too would be foggy. The maximum and minimum temperatures could hover around 16 and 5 degrees Celsius respectively.

The bone-chilling cold Friday was blamed on the plunging temperature, which touched a minimum of 4.5 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature also was a lowly 14.6 degrees.

The visibility in Delhi dropped to less than 50 metres at 8.30 a.m., an official of the IMD said. It led to cancellations of flights and trains, leaving thousands stranded.

While over 200 flights were delayed, 28 were cancelled and 19 domestic and international flights were diverted to Jaipur, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, an airport official said.

Motor vehicles moved at a snail’s pace early in the day.

According to the Northern Railway, 28 trains ran late by more than two hours while 40 were cancelled due to fog that made train journeys risky.

Across the city, people put on more and more layers of woollens to keep warm. The homeless and those in shanties lit bonfires to beat the intense cold.

Businessman Arun Vadala, 32, was forced to miss his cousin’s wedding in Ahmedabad after his train was cancelled.

“It’s frustrating how we suffer year after year from the same problem. Can’t we have a better technology in place?” he asked.

The worst hit in the morning were office-goers and school students.

Visibility was reduced to near zero in the vast stretches of forested land between Delhi and the Gurgaon border in Haryana.

“There was no way we could see anything from the Metro train beyond five feet,” said a college student, Vidya. “Just nothing could be seen beyond that distance.”

In a desperate bid to help the homeless, the Delhi government has opened shelters across the city.

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