World's worst air adds to Serbian capital's coronavirus woes

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Belgrade's residents on Friday isolated themselves not only from coronavirus but also from acrid smoke, which defied strong winds to transform the Serbian capital into the city with the world's most polluted air. The Air Visual API website, which compiles data from ground sensors worldwide, ranked the Serbian capital temporarily at the top of its global index of cities with the worst air pollution. Belgrade's pollution level later fell to fourth, behind Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Zagreb in Croatia, and Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Reuters March 28, 2020 00:13:39 IST
World's worst air adds to Serbian capital's coronavirus woes

Worlds worst air adds to Serbian capitals coronavirus woes

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Belgrade's residents on Friday isolated themselves not only from coronavirus but also from acrid smoke, which defied strong winds to transform the Serbian capital into the city with the world's most polluted air.

The Air Visual API website, which compiles data from ground sensors worldwide, ranked the Serbian capital temporarily at the top of its global index of cities with the worst air pollution.

Belgrade's pollution level later fell to fourth, behind Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Zagreb in Croatia, and Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Local researchers say that domestic heating and industry, including decades-old coal-fired power plants which provide most of Serbia's energy, emit almost three-quarters of the country's polluting air particles.

In January hundreds of protesters took to Belgrade's streets demanding the government tackle severe air pollution throughout the European Union candidate country.

In a statement, Ne Davimo Beograd (Let's Not Drown Belgrade), a local rights and environment watchdog, said that the main cause of the latest pollution could be a smouldering fire at the sprawling Vinca landfill, about 20 km (12 miles) east of the city centre.

Radomir Lazovic, one of the organisation's leading activists, said that air pollution could aggravate the condition of people with pulmonary diseases, which are particularly susceptible to coronavirus infection.

"According to estimates ... (by doctors), there are around 1 million of these people in Serbia," Lazovic told Reuters.

In a statement, the ministry for environmental protection said that along with small heating plants and domestic heating, dust was the main contributor to most recent pollution.

"After melting of snow and drying of the surface (soil), a strong wind led to re-emission of the (dust) particles into ... the lower layers of atmosphere," the ministry said.

So far, the coronavirus infection in Serbia has sickened 528 and killed eight people.

Officials from Belgrade's waste disposal company and city hall who are responsible for the landfill could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by William Maclean)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.