Schools across Sri Lanka have been closed as health and environment officials warned the air quality in most parts of the island nation was unhealthy, partly due to extreme weather conditions.
Polluted air from neighbouring India was aggravating the problem, authorities said, as a storm in the Bay of Bengal triggered heavy rains 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.
“The current pollution has arisen due to the combination of local air pollutants and transboundary air pollution,” said the National Building Research Organisation, a state agency involved in environmental monitoring and risk management.
“This condition can be seen in all parts of Sri Lanka and it has a tendency to cause health problems,” it added.
Director-general of health services Asela Gunawardena said the condition would continue for the next two weeks, and he advised people to limit the amount of time they spend outdoors and to wear a face mask outside in order to minimise their health risk.
At least two people were killed and another two were injured as heavy rains and winds lashed many parts of Sri Lanka over the past two days. Dozens of houses were damaged by falling trees and several roads were blocked.
The Department of Meteorology said that a severe cyclonic storm was in the Bay of Bengal, about 143 miles north-east of Sri Lanka, and likely to move toward India.