New Delhi: All the departures at the national capital airport were put on hold for the last two hour owing to fog conditions and congestions, news agency ANI reported on Tuesday. However, more details are awaited. Reportedly, the dense fog led to low visibility at the runway.

Three international and one domestic flight have been diverted so far while arrivals have not been stopped, the official added. The minimum visibility required for takeoff is 125 metres. The cold wave has intensified the national capital and its surrounding regions. On Tuesday, the temperature recorded was at 8 degree Celsius. The Met department predicted an increase in temperature over the next few days.

Jet Airways has advised its passengers to check flight status before travelling to the airport. “Due to adverse weather conditions (fog) at Delhi, few of our flights have been affected,” announced on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

According to the official, since the Low Visibility Take Off (LVTO) requirement is not being fulfilled, departure of flights were on hold for two hours from around 0715 hours. Departure of flights resumed at 0916 hours.

For past one week, there is a sharp drop in the minimum temperature which has caused the air quality in Delhi-NCR to turned ‘severe’. As per the Met, the conditions will remain so till Monday morning as such physical activities outdoors should not be encouraged.

The Indira Gandhi International Airport is the busiest in the country and on an average sees more than 70 flight movements per hour. This includes both arrivals and departures.

However, on Sunday, the national capital had experienced its coldest December in the past 12 years with the mercury dipping to 3.7 degrees Celsius.

“Currently, cold wave conditions are prevailing over northwest India which is causing the temperature in Delhi and adjoining areas to drop significantly but over the next two-three days, southwesterly winds will come in and increase the temperature by one-two degrees,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said on Sunday.

“Overall air quality in Delhi is in the severe plus zone and it is expected to remain in that range until tomorrow. Thereafter, it will start to improve slowly and may touch ‘very poor’ category,” System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) had said in its forecast.

The fall in temperature has also led to moderate to dense fog during the morning with visibility in Safdarjung area observed around 300 meters at 8.30 a.m. As per the IMD, Monday will witness moderate to dense fog in the morning and haze later in the day.

“The rest of the day will be partly covered with clouds with the maximum temperature reaching 23 degrees Celsius and the minimum hovering around 5 to 6 degrees Celsius,” the Met had said.

In terms of pollution, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded at 471. The average concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) in Delhi was also in the ‘severe’ category at 408 and 588 microgrammes per cubic meter, respectively.

With toxic pollutants reaching ‘severe’ levels, experts have advised avoiding all physical activity outdoors, including morning walks and not to rely on dust masks for protection against pollutants. “Instead use N-95 or P-100 respirators when stepping outdoors.”