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Photos: Smog-hit New Delhi extends school shutdown

Indian school children wearing face masks are seen as the city is engulfed in heavy smog at India gate, in New Delhi, India

Indian schoolchildren wear face masks as heavy smog engulfs the city, at India Gate, New Delhi [Rajat Gupta/EPA]

Authorities in India’s smog-ridden capital have extended an emergency schools closure by a week, with no signs of improvement in the megacity’s choking levels of pollution.

New Delhi is blanketed in acrid smog every autumn, primarily blamed on stubble burning by farmers in the neighbouring agrarian states.

The city of nearly 30 million residents is regularly ranked as one of the most polluted on the planet, with its annual smog blamed for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year.

“As pollution levels continue to remain high, primary schools in Delhi will stay closed till 10th November,” Delhi state’s education minister Atishi posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Secondary schools “are being given the option of shifting to online classes”, added Atishi, who uses only one name, after days of high pollution levels.

Delhi state annually imposes restrictions on construction activities and orders some vehicles off roads when pollution reaches severe levels.

New Delhi is set to host a cricket World Cup match on Monday between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. But both teams cancelled their scheduled pre-match training sessions in recent days over health risks from the smog.

Severe smog levels are expected to persist in the city for several more weeks.

Levels of the most dangerous PM2.5 particles – so tiny they can enter the bloodstream – reached 570 micrograms per cubic metre on Sunday, according to IQAir, nearly 40 times the daily maximum recommended by the World Health Organization.

A Lancet study in 2020 attributed 1.67 million deaths to air pollution in India during the previous year, including almost 17,500 in New Delhi.

The city skyline is enveloped by smog and fog in New Delhi

The city skyline is enveloped by smog and fog in New Delhi. [Raunaq Lekhi/AP Photo]

People wearing face masks walk along the Kartavya Path amid heavy smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 5

People wearing face masks walk along a road in central New Delhi amid heavy smog conditions. [Arun Sankar/AFP]

Traffic moves on a road enveloped by fog and smog in New Delhi, India

Traffic moves on a road enveloped by fog and smog in New Delhi. Authorities on Friday shut primary schools and banned polluting vehicles and construction activity to control the worst haze and smog this season. [AP Photo]

Indian people sit under a tree as the city is engulfed in heavy smog at Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi, India, 04 November 2023. Delhi and National Capital Region's Air Quality Index (AQI) slipped into the 'Severe and Hazardous' category

People sit under a tree as the city is engulfed in heavy smog at Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, where the air quality index (AQI) slipped into the ‘severe and hazardous’ category. [Rajat Gupta/EPA]

Tourists wear face masks as the city is engulfed in heavy smog at Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi

Tourists wear face masks as the city is engulfed in heavy smog at Humayun’s Tomb. [Rajat Gupta/EPA]

Children play soccer early morning in a park enveloped by smog and fog in New Delhi

Children play football early in the morning in a park enveloped by smog and fog in New Delhi. [Rishi Lekhi/AP Photo]

Commuters make their way near India's presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan amid heavy smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 5, 2023. - Authorities in the smog-ridden Indian capital New Delhi on November 5

Commuters make their way near India’s presidential palace amid heavy smoggy conditions in New Delhi. [Arun Sankar/AFP]

An Indian man wearing a face mask walks as the city is engulfed in heavy smog at Lodhi garden, in New Delhi, India, 04 November

A man wearing a face mask walks amid heavy smog at the Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi. [Rajat Gupta/EPA]

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