By Taniya Dutta
This is the terrifying moment, dozens of women and children ran for their lives after 18 cars rammed into each other on a smog filled highway that for days has shrouded entire north India.
The incident happened early morning on Agra-Noida Yamuna Expressway, 30 miles from New Delhi, in northern India, on Wednesday.
Delhi and surrounding cities have been covered by thick smog due to pollution levels spiking over 10 times the safe limit, dropping the visibility to 50 meters.
In the video captured on mobile phones, hatchback cars and a bus are seen rammed into each other due to low visibility while speeding cars keep coming and slamming into the damaged vehicles.
Some men can be heard shouting and requesting passengers, including women and children to get off their cars quickly as more cars are speeding towards the site.
Luckily, no major casualties were reported.
Delhi, that was already choking due to high levels of pollution, was further at the receiving end on Tuesday after farmers in the neighbouring states of the city-Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, paid deaf ear to government orders and kept burning the post-harvest residue.
The air quality is ‘severe’ category in several parts of the city.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday had described the city as ‘gas chamber’ and ordered to close all primary schools and barred outdoor activities in the wake of the pollution.
System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research said on Tuesday the levels of particulate matter 2.5 – or fine particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres – over Delhi stood at a ‘severe’ 703 microgram per cubic metre- over double the threshold of 300 that authorities class as hazardous.
This is 50 times more than London’s pollution level.
Indian Medical Association has declared Delhi as ‘public health emergency’.
Levels of PM2.5 — the finer particles are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease.
There have been complaints of burning eyes and breathing issues. Doctors are advising people to stay indoors and use mask if moving out of home.
The World Health Organisation in 2014 classed Delhi as the world’s most polluted capital, with air quality levels worse than Beijing.
The city’s air quality typically worsens ahead of the onset of winter as cooler air traps pollutants near the ground, preventing them from dispersing into the atmosphere, a phenomenon known as inversion. ENDS