Garbage fire chokes Indian capital reeling from heatwave

Garbage fire chokes Indian capital reeling from heatwave

Indian firefighting teams poured truckloads of sand and mud to douse a huge rubbish dump blaze on Wednesday after thick and putrid smoke from the inferno choked the country’s unseasonably hot capital.Tuesday night’s fire was the fourth to break out in less than a month at a landfill in New Delhi, where a running heatwave has added extra discomfort to the city’s hot and dry spring climate.

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At least 10 fire trucks battled through the night to put out the blaze at the Bhalswa dump in Delhi’s north, which ignited a trash mound around 60 metres (200 feet) in height.

No casualties were reported, and officials were investigating the cause of the fire.

Three other fires have broken out in recent weeks further east at the city’s biggest landfill, which experts have blamed on searing heat.

Pradeep Khandelwal, the former head of Delhi’s waste management department, said each blaze was likely sparked by warmer temperatures speeding up the decomposition of organic waste.

“The dry and hot weather produces excess methane gas at the dumping sites that trigger such fires,” Khandelwal told AFP.

Delhi is a sprawling megacity home to more than 20 million people but lacks modern waste management infrastructure to process the roughly 12,000 tonnes of solid trash it produces each day.

The city has witnessed several bouts of scorching heat since March and forecasters have predicted daytime temperatures could reach 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday.

Authorities have issued an alert and asked vulnerable people to avoid the outdoors.

Last month Delhi recorded a high of 40.1 degrees — the hottest March temperature in the city since 1946.

Heatwaves have killed over 6,500 people in India since 2010, and scientists say climate change is making them harsher and more frequent.

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