Pollution levels in the Indian capital in November have rivalled 1952 London, when smog killed around 4,000 people, pollution experts say.
On the worst day, November 8, several monitoring stations in New Delhi reported an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 999, far higher than the upper limit of the hazardous band of 500. Flights and train services had to be cancelled because of poor visibility and several pileups were reported as vehicles slammed into each other or crashed into trees and electric poles.
The pollution levels meant that citizens were forced to retreat indoors or flee to safer environments in the nearby foothills of the Himalayas.
By November 21, the AQI had improved though still at a hazardous 326. There are fears that as winter intensifies, the situation could return to “extremely hazardous” again.
Through the entire crisis, officials shied away from declaring a public health emergency and dismissed warnings issued by doctors, concerned locals and international agencies as alarmist.