KARACHI, Nov 7 -- Authorities in Pakistan’s second most populous city closed schools on Thursday due to heavy smog that sent the air quality index soaring from 200 to 500, Anadolu Agency reported, citing officials and local media.
“Due to sudden increase in smog, all schools in Lahore will remain closed tomorrow. We are closely monitoring the Lahore smog situation,” the chief minister of the northeast Punjab province, of which Lahore serves as its capital, said in a tweet.
“Administration is already on high alert and have tasked them to escalate actions against crop burning and other factors that contribute to smog.”
A late-night drizzle in the city improved the situation a bit, but layers of toxic smoke are still enveloping the city.
State meteorologists blamed the sudden rise in smog on wind from neighboring India bringing smoke and other pollutants, mainly due to stubble burning by paddy farmers in Indian Punjab.
They said smoke and other pollutants had entered Lahore from Jalindhar in Indian Punjab, where farmers burn crop leftovers for the sowing season every year at the beginning of November.
A combination of smog and smoke has left hundreds of people with sore throats and itchy eyes, with doctors urging the public to drink more liquids and stay indoors to avoid respiratory trouble.
Heavy smog has affected parts of both countries at the start of winter for the last several years as authorities in India failed to contain the burning of stubble by farmers despite repeated warnings.