LAHORE: A pile-up because of poor visibility on the National Highway left one person dead on Saturday as fog blanketed the plains of Punjab and adjoining regions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, disrupting air, road and rail traffic.
The authorities closed the M-2 (motorway) at 8.30pm and the airport an hour later. Temperatures fell as a thick fog blocked out sunshine almost the whole day in these regions.
According to highway and motorway officials, 35-year-old Khadim Hussain, of Pattoki, died after his car was caught in the pile-up caused by an oil tanker-trailer collision in Manga Mandi, on the outskirts of Lahore.
The Meteorological Department said the dense fog had enveloped most parts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because of high concentration of moisture in the atmosphere and low temperature. It is likely to continue for another 10 days in the plains in Punjab, upper Sindh and central and lower parts of KP.
The day’s maximum temperature in the fog-hit areas of Punjab dropped by eight to 10 degrees Celsius and the trend is likely to persist. Air and ground traffic was likely to remain disrupted over the next 10 days, the Met Office said.
The motorway remained closed at all entry points of Lahore for traffic from
11pm on Friday to 10am on Saturday because of poor visibility. The Lahore-bound traffic from Islamabad was diverted to the nearest exit points by the motorway police.
Similarly, the National Highway also remained blanketed by fog from Jhelum to Rahimyar Khan and Sukkur, making travel risky because of poor visibility. However, things improved after 10am.
FLIGHT SCHEDULE: The Lahore airport officials said fog had disrupted the flight schedule. They said that although the fog cleared in the afternoon, they struggled to clear the backlog.
Passengers of a Kuwait-bound flight, which was delayed by several hours, were accommodated in a hotel.
Railways officials said that a number of trains were late, causing an unusual rush at the railway station, they added.
Road users in Lahore and elsewhere also faced a great deal of inconvenience during fog hours on the New Year night and in the morning. Visibility improved around 1pm.
The fog blanket blocked the sunshine, keeping the day’s maximum temperature to just 13 degrees C. The minimum temperature on Friday night was recorded at one degree C. In Murree, the maximum temperature was nine and the minimum zero degrees C.
The Met office said that fog cleared in Bahawalpur, Jhang, Jhelum Multan, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Okara and Sialkot in the afternoon on Saturday. It stayed in Bahawalnagar till 5pm.
The Met office said that there was 80 per cent chance of normal winter rainfall in the country. However, northern parts may receive slightly above normal (+ 10 per cent) precipitation because of one or two strong rain spells expected in January and February.
The country normally receives 51.99mm rain between December and February.