LAHORE - At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured in road accidents due to low visibility as dense fog blanketed various cities and vast areas of Punjab adversely affecting the routine life and disrupting the road, rail and air traffic on Tuesday.

Experts have predicted the prevailing harsh weather conditions to persist during the next couple of days. Most parts of the plains hardly saw any sunshine while in Lahore the relief was limited to only couple of hours and after that the sun again disappeared behind dense fog.

Thick fog hampered vehicular movement throughout the province, delaying arrival and departure of international and domestic flights and disturbing schedule of trains.

Less visibility caused closure of Motorway from Islamabad to Lahore and Faisalabad in the evening, adding to the woes of motorists who were forced to use alternative routes to reach to their respective destinations. Zero visibility at various sections of Highways considerably decreased vehicular speed besides causing dozens of mishaps. Motorway police closed M-2 between Kot Momin and Lahore and diverted the traffic to GT Road. Motorway M-11 was also closed from Bhera to Faisalabad and Lahore.

Most of the cities of Punjab including Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Multan, Bahwalpur, Sahiwal, Okara, Sheikhupura, Daska, Faisalabad, Pindi Bhattian, Pind Dadan Khan, Layyah, Okara, Muzzafargarh, Jhang, Mailsi, Lodhran and others remained in the grip of dense fog.

National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP) have advised the citizens to avoid unnecessary traveling. The Police have asked the motorists drive slow, maintain safe distance, switch on fog lights and heaters and use wipers to remove mist from wind screens.

Due to dense fog, visibility at Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) reduced to zero, causing inordinate delay in arrival and departure of dozens of international and domestic flights.

Several trains were delayed due to the foggy conditions across the province. Awam Express arrived Lahore late by seven hours and Jaffer Express by five hours causing great inconvenience to the passengers. Business Express and Karakuram Express were also late by three hours each, while PIA’s eight flights were affected by the foggy weather.

Multan airport remained closed for flights operation till 01:30 PM. All night flights for Karachi and Islamabad and Multan-Dubai were cancelled. Similarly, all trains and busses arriving in Multan were late.

Fog started falling in the evening after brief period of sunshine and become so dense in the evening that the visibility reduced to zero in open areas.

Lack of sunshine, snowfall over the hills and winds helped maintaining the mercury to a low level, making weather chilly during the day and at nighttime.

Skardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 09 degree Celsius below the freezing point.

Harsh weather conditions forced the people to stay indoors wrapped in woolies and blankets to keep their bodies warm. Excessive usage of heaters in the offices and at home led to low gas pressure in major cities including Lahore. In certain areas, women faced huge difficulties in cooking meals for their families.

 In Lahore, maximum and minimum temperature was recorded 17 C and 07 C respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 84 per cent.

According to the experts, a shallow westerly wave is prevailing over upper parts of the country.

Local meteorological department has forecast mainly cold and dry weather for most parts of the country during the next couple of days. However, partly cloudy weather with chances of rain (with light snowfall over the hills) is expected at isolated places of Malakand division and Gilgit-Baltistan. Dense foggy conditions would prevail over plains of Punjab and Sukkur division during night/morning hours.

Four people were killed when a car collided with another near Ghora Chowk in Defence Phase-III area of Lahore due to low visibility. Among dead were Mishal 20, Aneeza 16, Tariq 23 and Ghulam Nabi 35.

A motorcyclist was killed on the spot after collision with a truck on Main Boulevard in Johar Town area.

A truck turned turtle on Multan Raod which retarted the flow of traffic on Tuesday.

Police said a tractor-trolley crushed a cyclist in Gujjarpura area. The deceased was not identified. Police took tractor-trolley in their custody but the driver escaped from the scene.

A man, Ameer, sustained serious injuries in an accident at Sagian Bridge due to fog and was shifted to Lahore General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

In another incident, a speedy car took the life of pedestrian at Kahna Road. The deceased was identified as Nawaz Khan. The residents of the area staged a strong protest and blocked the road demanding that the car driver should be arrested.

At railways stations, a wagon crushed an elderly woman.

A man was killed and three others injured in fog-related two traffic accidents on Lodhran- Khanewal Road on Tuesday. The dead and the injured were shifted to the hospital, rescue sources said.

An over speeding goods laden truck, due to low visibility, rammed a motorcycle at Shah Jamal Jatoi Road of Muzaffargarh killing three real brothers on the spot.

Separately, two people were killed when their motorcycles collided on Fatehpur Road in Layyah.

In Okara, five people were reportedly injured in different roads mishaps. A motorcyclist died on the spot after hitting a truck on Depalpur Road.

In Manawala, at least 13 people were injured when a passenger bus hit a truck while another 15 passengers were hurt when a mini-bus crashed into a nullah in Kot Pindidad. Schedule of domestic and international flights was affected at Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport.

Over a dozen students of a private school of Jalalpur Bhattian received minor injuries when their van collided head on with a tractor-trolley on Pindi Bhattian-Hafizabad Road due to foggy condition on Tuesday morning. Over two dozen bike riders and villagers received injuries when their bikes and vehicles collided, according to reports received from different places of the district.

Separately, a passenger was killed and 15 other sustained injuries, three of them seriously, in a head on collision between bus and a truck at Faisalabad Road near Manawala. The deceased was identified as Faqeer Muhammad resident of Faisalabad.

The injured were taken to DHQ Hospital Sheikhupura and Mayo Hospital Lahore. The second accident occurred near Qila Sattar Shah on Lahore Road in which a Mazda Costar due to poor visibility turned turtle after falling from a roadside bridge. As a result 10 passengers sustained injuries while one of them, later identified as Waheeed, died in the hospital.

The attendance in schools, colleges and offices in Hafizabad also remained thin and chilly weather coupled with fog adversely affected business activities in the district.

Chief Meteorologist Mohammad Riaz said current fog situation would persist for two more days while light rain was expected in southern and northern areas of the country.

Meanwhile, dense fog blanketed the Hafizabad district reducing the visibility to few yards. Visibility on Motorway from Pindi Bhattian to Sheikhupura Interchange was reduced to few feet causing a lot of hardships and inconvenience to the motorists.

Thick fog also paralysed life in entire South Punjab on Tuesday.

Besides Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and several areas of Sindh also remained blanketed with dense fogs blurring visibility and causing traffic accidents.