‘Hazardous’ dust storm batters India’s polluted capital

‘Hazardous’ dust storm batters India’s polluted capital with hundreds of people flocking to city hospitals with breathing issues

  • The number of patients seeking help for respiratory related illness in one Delhi hospital rose by 20 per cent 
  • Air quality in Delhi has been ranked among the world’s worst according to the World Health Organisation
  • India is currently home to 14 of the world’s most polluted cities with Delhi topping the charts for unclean air

Hundreds of people have flocked to hospitals in Delhi after a series of dust storms caused widespread breathing problems among the city’s inhabitants.

Authorities in the Indian capital suspended all construction on Friday and sent out more water trucks to spray the streets in the hope of improving the quality of the city’s air.

According to doctors at the government hospital, there has been an increase of patients with respiratory problems up to 20 per cent in the last three days. 

The air quality levels in Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities based on World Health Organization data, ranged from ‘very unhealthy’ to ‘hazardous’ on Friday as a steady breeze blew.

A man paddles in a rowing boat in the waters of Sukhna lake in Chandigarh on Friday as dust a dust blanket hovers over the water’s surface

Commuters battle with the haze of dust as they make their way into the city of Chandigarh to go to work on Friday morning

Indian workers on a rooftop in a residential area of the city of Amritsar as people across the north of India struggle with the conditions

‘Decision to ramp up sprinkling, close construction activity till Sunday,’ environmentalist Sunita Narain said on Twitter after attending an emergency meeting called by the city’s lieutenant governor, Anil Baijal.

‘Focus on big tree plantation this monsoon,’ Narain added.

South Asia’s central plain sees scorching temperatures and strong winds that whip up fierce dust storms at this time of the year, just before the onset of the rainy season.

The Central Pollution Control Board says the wind is blowing dust from the desert state of Rajasthan into Delhi.

People complaining of respiratory problems have been flocking to city hospitals.

‘Patients with no history of respiratory ailments are complaining of cough and breathing issues,’ said Prashant Saxena, a pulmonology specialist at the Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital.

India is home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities, based on the amount of particulate matter under 2.5 micrograms found in every cubic metre of air.

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Traffic continues to flow on one of Amritsar’s busiest highways despite the terrible conditions which have made it harder and harder to breathe

A group of motorcyclists riding with makeshift masks to cover their faces from the dust cloud on the outskirts of Amritsar

Hundreds of people were said to have checked into hospitals in India over the last few days to report respiratory problems from the dust

Doctors warned the visible grit carried by hot summer winds posed serious health risks to the city of 20 million and there was little to do ‘but pray for rain’

An Indian police man checks the speed of oncoming vehicles using a speed radar gun in an area blanketed with heavy dust and pollution in Amritsar

Street lamps had to be switched on in the middle of the day in the city as the sun was so badly obscured by the thick layer of dust

A man does press-ups as he exercises by the dust-covered lake in Chndigarh as birds fly around in the haze behind him

A man wheels his rickshaw down the road as a trio on a motorbike pass him on a dusty suburban street in Amritsar

An Indian commuter crosses the railway tracks carrying his bicycle as dust shrouds a busy railway station in Jalandhar

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