Intense cold coupled with dense fog played havoc in north India today, claiming at least four lives, affecting road and rail traffic, and virtually paralysing flight operations in Delhi, where the mercury dipped to the season's lowest of 4.2 degrees Celsius. A thick blanket of fog disrupted normal life in vast swathes of north India including in Uttar Pradesh, where three persons were killed and several others injured in separate road accidents in Badaun and Barabanki district, caused due to low visibility. Flight operations at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi were virtually paralysed for six hours in the morning, delaying over 173 flights, as visibility dropped below 50 metres mark. Similar situations prevailed in many other airports in the north including in Jaipur, where ten flights including four international services were delayed. Train services were also affected largely across north India with more than 70 trains running behind schedule by several hours causing great inconvenience to passengers. In the national capital, the minimum temperature plunged to 4.2 degrees Celsius, the coldest December 22 in the past five years and also the lowest of this season so far. According to the MeT department, today's minimum was four notches below normal and more then two points less then yesterday's 6.4 degrees Celsius.
The maximum was recorded at 15.8 degrees Celsius which too was six notches below normal. Intense cold conditions also continued in Rajasthan with the mercury dropping at several places and claiming one life in state capital Jaipur. A street-beggar in his 30s was found dead outside Ganesh temple in Chandpole Gate area this morning due to cold weather conditions, police said. Mount Abu was the coldest place in Rajasthan with a low of 2 degrees Celsius. The winter chill also prompted advance closure of schools in Uttar Pradesh and many other parts of north India. The Kashmir Valley continued to experience dry and cold weather on the second day of 'Chillai-Kalan', the 40-day harshest winter period, as the minimum temperatures remained below the freezing point with slight respite from cold conditions at some places.