Schools across Sri Lanka were closed on Friday as health and environmental officials said air quality across most of the island nation was unhealthy, in part due to extreme weather conditions.
Polluted air from neighboring India has exacerbated the problem, authorities said, as a storm in the Bay of Bengal has brought heavy rain and winds across Sri Lanka in recent days.
A haze hung over the capital, Colombo, and other parts of the country, with the level of fine particles in the air reaching unhealthy levels.
“Current pollution is due to a combination of local air pollutants and transboundary air pollution,” said the National Building Research Organization, a state agency involved in environmental monitoring and risk management.
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“This condition can be seen in all parts of Sri Lanka and has a tendency to cause health problems,” he added.
Health services director general Asela Gunawardena said the condition would continue for the next two weeks and advised people to limit the amount of time they spend outdoors and to wear a mask when outside to minimize the risk for Health.
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At least two people were killed and two others injured as heavy rains and winds hit many parts of Sri Lanka over the past two days. Dozens of homes were damaged by falling trees and several roads were blocked.
The Department of Meteorology said on Friday that a strong cyclonic storm had developed in the Bay of Bengal, about 143 miles northeast of Sri Lanka, and was likely to move towards India.