New Delhi: Foggy conditions paralysed life in much of northern India for the second consecutive day on Sunday, playing havoc with airline and railway schedules, even as a cold wave claimed at least 30 lives in Uttar Pradesh.
At least 50 international and domestic flights were delayed by up to three hours and around 15 flights were cancelled due to dense fog or other operational reasons at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), airport officials said.
Thirteen trains were also cancelled, Northern Railway officials said.
In Uttar Pradesh, cold weather claimed the lives of six persons in Mirzapur, while five deaths each were reported from Ballia and Banda districts; four from Kanpur Dehat; three from Muzaffarnagar; two each from Sonbhadra, Hamirpur, Fatehpur and Chandauli; and one each from Farukkhabad and Unnao; officials said without elaborating.
Services affected: People cross a railway track on a cold, foggy Sunday in New Delhi. Around 13 trains were cancelled on Sunday due to inordinate delays in preceding runs, Northern Railway officials said. Kamal Kishore / PTI
At least 74 people have died in India’s largest state due to intense cold and related incidents this winter, including 10 persons on Saturday, who were killed in three separate accidents involving five passenger trains in near zero visibility conditions.
Delhi experienced a drizzle on Sunday morning, but recorded a low of 9.5 degrees Celsius against Saturday’s minimum of 8.4 degree. Visibility improved and flight operations remained normal in the morning, but were later disrupted by fog.
“The day started smoothly, a day after dense fog played havoc leading to delay and cancellation of several flights, as the runway visibility was more than 1,600m due to relatively clear day this morning,” an airport official said.
Thirteen flights of SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines to Amritsar, Leh, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Srinagar and Kolkata, and two international flights to Amsterdam and London were cancelled.
Some flights from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport were also delayed by 15-20 minutes.
Passengers from two international Delhi-bound flights, which had been diverted to Mumbai on Saturday owing to bad weather, were finally sent off on Sunday afternoon.
All passengers from the London-Delhi and Jeddah-Delhi flights had been boarded on a single aircraft, AI891, in Mumbai on Saturday evening after their diverted flights had landed.
But they were asked to deplane when the flight operators realized they wouldn’t be able to land in Delhi. Around 25 passengers, however, refused to deplane and virtually held the plane hostage until 9.30am on Sunday, a Mumbai airport official said.
“The passengers refused to disembark, notwithstanding the request to deplane and assurance of overnight stay in hotels. The crew naturally could not leave the aircraft as under regulations, crew have to be on board till passengers are on the aircraft,” an Air India press release said.
They finally relented on Sunday morning, had their breakfast and then were able to leave for Delhi, where they landed at around 3.30pm, the official said.
Jet Airways deployed the Airbus A330 aircraft on two international routes, Chennai-Colombo-Chennai and Delhi-Dubai-Delhi, to clear the backlog of passengers who couldn’t fly on Saturday, the carrier said in a statement.
Kingfisher Airlines said it was able to avoid the cascading effect of Saturday’s delays by running flights until 3am on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Northern Railways cancelled 13 trains due to inordinate delays in preceding runs. The cancelled trains include Magadh Express, Gomti Express, Lichchavi Express, Pratapgarh-Kanpur Express, Shan-e-Punjab Express, Seemanchal Express and New Delhi-Jalandhar Express, among others, said a Northern Railways spokesperson.
Besides, 49 trains reaching Delhi were also running late, the spokesperson said, adding the failure of the northern grid on Saturday night also led to the delay.
Jammu and Kashmir reported the second snowfall of the season. White flakes covered several parts of the Kashmir valley. Earlier, the valley experienced a snowfall in the second week of November.