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Schools close in Pakistan’s largest cities amid toxic smog emergency

Authorities have closed all public and private schools in three of Pakistan’s major cities, to prevent students from breathing the heavily polluted air, shortly after similar dense smog triggered an emergency in neighboring India.

Classes on Friday were canceled in Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala – the cities worst-hit by the smog. This is already the third time in a month that local authorities decided to keep public and private schools shut, according to local media.

Earlier in November, the Pakistani government prohibited all outdoor activities for kids until late December, for the same reason. Students of all ages have been instructed to wear anti-smog masks during school hours.

The air quality in Lahore, Pakistan’s second most populous city after Karachi, was classified as ‘unhealthy’ by Air Visual website, which monitors pollution levels worldwide. It was also ranked as the fifth-most polluted city in the world after Delhi, Beijing, Karachi and Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.

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In neighboring India, cities have also been enveloped by toxic smog, with local businesses even offering oxygen sessions featuring a choice of fragrances.

Staggering smog levels in both countries have been blamed on an increase in road vehicles, construction and industrial activity as well as on the burning of rubbish and crops in the countryside.

Also on rt.com Put on your anti-smog mask first: AirAsia India gives passengers flying to Delhi pollution protection

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