Dense fog in Islamabad, Rawalpindi disrupts air, rail, road traffic

Flights from Sharjah, Dubai and Riyadh Qasim were diverted to Lahore due to unsafe visibility conditions in Islamabad

Thick fog engulfs roads, buildings, and the metro bus track in Rawalpindi. — Online/File
Thick fog engulfs roads, buildings, and the metro bus track in Rawalpindi. — Online/File 

Thick fog on Sunday clocked Islamabad and Rawalpindi, also known as twin cities, lowering visibility level to a mere 50 meters in some areas and disrupting air, rail, and road traffic.

The adverse weather conditions are expected to persist, affecting daily life and raising concerns about the well-being of residents.

Early morning flights, both domestic and international, faced delays and disruptions, as did rail services and vehicular movement on city roads and motorways. 

The poor visibility level in the cities, however, gradually improved later in the day.

As per the details, the Islamabad International Airport was enveloped in fog by 11 pm on Saturday, causing further complications for air travel. 

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) official highlighted the current cold wave, predicting its grip on the Potohar region, northern areas, Central Punjab, and the entire country on Sunday. 

Despite a gradual improvement expected by the end of the next week, the official warned of continued cold, dry, and foggy conditions across Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The PMD official stated that there are no immediate signs of rain in the coming days, with a possibility of rainfall in the twin cities only after January 28.

The minimum temperature in Rawalpindi and Islamabad was recorded at a chilly 2°C. The recent cold wave, combined with the persistent fog, has exacerbated living conditions, with power load shedding and low gas pressure adding to the difficulties.

The harsh weather has led to an increase in cold-related ailments, especially among the elderly and children. 

Hospitals are witnessing over 200 patients daily with complaints related to extreme cold conditions. Doctors are advising people to stay warm, cover their heads and ears, and increase liquid intake, particularly soups, to minimise the effects of the dry cold.

The adverse weather conditions have not only impacted health but also affected businesses. The traders’ community in Rawalpindi’s Commercial Market area has reported a decrease in customers, leading to low business for many days. 

The shopkeepers are compelled to close their shops after Maghrib prayers due to the decline in evening market visits. This situation has added to the financial crunch already faced by the business community in the country.

Transportation has taken a significant hit, with the thick blanket of early-morning fog causing delays in trains arriving from Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, and Lahore. 

The flight operations of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and other airlines were also affected, resulting in diversions, delays, and cancellations.

Moreover, the flights from Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, and Al-Qasim were diverted to Lahore due to unsafe visibility conditions in Islamabad, with the PIA announcing a change in flight schedules for Sunday and Monday.

Despite the inconveniences, flight operations at Islamabad International Airport resumed their regular schedule in the evening after an improvement in weather conditions.

The PIA management urged passengers to cooperate, acknowledging the steps taken to minimise inconvenience during the persistent fog. The situation highlights the challenges posed by adverse weather conditions to both daily life and transportation systems in the twin cities.

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