Lahore was enveloped in a thick layer of fog, with zero visibility on Wednesday evening, hindering traffic movement for hours across the city.
Bad weather forced the authorities to suspend flight operations at the Allama Iqbal International Airport and rail traffic at the Lahore Railways Station. Different bus terminals and exit and entry points of the motorways were closed for traffic moment.
There are reports of dense fog in other parts of the country, forcing authorities to close the different sections of the motorways on Tuesday night, causing severe inconvenience for thousands of commuters at different points. Miles-long queues of traffic were being reported on GT Road and Indus Highways.
A local TV reported that at least 20 persons were injured and 30 vehicles had piled up in various traffic incidents on Wednesday, until the filing of this report.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), in its statement, requested the passengers to check flight timings from PIA call centres before leaving for airports. The destinations for some of the flights were also being changed due to fog, announced the national flag carrier.
A PIA spokesperson stated that due to fog, flight TK714 from Istanbul to Lahore was delayed by eight hours and flight XY317 from Riyadh was also delayed by eight hours.
Similarly, flights from Dubai and Jeddah were also cancelled, while flight J9502 from Lahore to Kuwait could not depart even after 10 hours.
Fog also blanketed other parts of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday midnight and there was no sign of improvement for more than 18 hours. The situation badly disrupted the road traffic and paralysed routine life in northern Punjab and KP.
The National Highways and Motorway Police closed M1 section from Rashakai to Peshawar in KP, while traffic was not allowed on Lahore-Sialkot and Lahore-Samundri sections. The other parts of the motorways were also closed at different points on Wednesday evening.
The authorities have advised the drivers to switch on fog lights while driving at a very slow speed on alternative roads. It also requested the people to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.
The rail traffic at mainline one (ML-1) section was also badly disrupted due to low visibility. The railway authorities confirmed the delay in departure of different trains from Lahore Railways Station to ‘up’ and ‘down’ destinations. A huge crowd of passengers was being reported at the railway station and different bus terminals, including the Niazi Bus Adda, City Terminal, Badami Bagh Bus Stand and Jinnah Bus Terminal Thokar Niaz Baig bypass. Transport owners delayed the departure of inter-city buses due to visibility issue.
Intra-city traffic also faced massive disruption due to bad weather. The authorities suspended the Orange Line Train and metro bus operation for hours, while different urban transport also faced issues in resuming its operation, causing severe problems for thousands of daily commuters in the provincial metropolis.
Meanwhile, gas also vanished from homes with the drop in temperature, as consumers from Lahore and other cities of Punjab complained about the unavailability and low pressure of the fuel.
Admitting the gas demand in the domestic sector increased significantly, the SNGPL on Wednesday announced to suspend supply to captive power sector for an indefinite period. The decision has been made as per the approved load management programme and to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to domestic consumers, stated the company’s spokesperson, requesting the domestic consumers to use gas only when required. “Consumers are requested to use electric heaters and geysers. Using a compressor deprives other users of their right. Consumers should avoid using compressors,” the company said in a statement.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), dense smog/fog is likely to engulf plain areas of Punjab during the next 24 hours.
As per the synoptic situation, a westerly wave was present over upper parts of the country and may persist till tonight.
Cold and dry weather is expected in most parts of the country. While very cold weather is likely in Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir, upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and districts of north Balochistan.
During the last 24 hours, cold and dry weather prevailed over most parts of the country.