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Monday, December 19, 2011

North India reels under cold wave, death toll 39

New Delhi: Dense fog and dipping temperatures threw normal life out of gear across north India on Monday as 11 more people succumbed to intense cold, raising the death toll to 39. Nine deaths have occurred in Punjab and two in Uttar Pradesh since Sunday evening. 

    Fatehgarh, with a minimum temperature of 3.9 degrees Celsius, was the coldest place in UP. 
    The first dense fog of the season hit the national capital early on Monday and, as feared, threw the region out of gear. As visibility dropped to less than 50m at places, flights were delayed and even cancelled, train services remained paralyzed and at least one life was lost in a road accident. 
    Traffic slowed to a crawl in the cold morning 
hours, with school-going children bearing the brunt of the below-normal temperatures and low visibility. "I had a tough time steering through the fog. But this is just the beginning. It might get worse as the temperature dips," said Vivek Shukla, a school cab driver. 13-day dense fog longest spell since '98 
NewDelhi:A 55-year-old woman died when a schoolbus collided with a scooty at 8.30 am in Gurgaon on Monday. Police said the bus driver could not spot the two-wheeler in the fog. 
    At the airport, a much bigger disruption was averted when the instrument landing system on the main runway was rectified just in time. The new runway came under very dense fog for about three hours during which time only the main runway was in use. About 200 flights were delayed, some up to five hours, and at least nine cancelled as low visibility procedures were in place for 12 hours. 
    Rail services, already reeling under the impact of heavy fog between east UP and Bengal, were further disrupted as the fog cover moved west into the national capital. As many as 40 trains were cancelled and 100 others suffered delays. 
    This spell of fog started over Bi
har, Bangladesh and Uttar Pradesh around December 6 and had threatened to affect Delhi twice earlier. 
    "Now, Delhi NCR, Haryana and Punjab have also come under the spell of this large-scale dense fog. It still covers most parts of UP, Bihar and Bengal including Patna, Varanasi, Lucknow, Gorkahpur and Allahabad. It is 13 days since this spell started and it is probably the longest lasting spell 
over the Indo-Gangetic plains since 1998. Before this a spell of fog had affected the plains between November 19 and 24," said an official. 
    The minimum temperature in Delhi was five degrees Celsius, three notches below normal, while the maximum settled at 21.9 degrees, a notch below normal. Cold conditions prevailed in Kashmir with the minimum temperatures dropping several degrees below freezing point as the weather department forecast light to moderate snowfall at many places. 
    Mercury in the skiing resort of Gulmarg plummeted to a minimum of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius. Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, reeled at minus 3.4 degrees Celsius. The tourist resort of Pahalgam recorded a low of minus 5.4 degrees Celsius. In the Leh district, the mercury dipped to a low of minus 13 degrees Celsius. TNN & AGENCIES

A passenger plane waits to take off as a thick fog envelops New Delhi's IGI Airport on Monday



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