MEXICO pollution alert extended as smog stagnates.

Mexico city authorities have announced a straight second day of school closures for Friday, and extended a pollution alert as a cloud of smog continued to blanked the sprawling capital.

Dozens of wildfires have combined with hot, dry weather to cause a sharp rise in air pollution across a swathe of central Mexico - especially in the Mexico City metropolitan area, home to more than 20 million people.

The city declared an environmental alert Tuesday, urging residents to avoid physical activities outdoors and the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses to remain inside.

Friday will make the fourth straight day under the emergency measures.

''Due to high pollution levels caused by the fires affecting the region and unfavorable weather conditions for the dispersal of the resulting particles, the Mexico City board of education has decided to extend the the cancellation of classes,'' the education ministry said Thursday in a statement.

The mega-city has been blanketed in a layer of burnt-smelling smog since Saturday. The air pollution has swathed the skyline in a murky gray and stings some resident eyes and throats, causing many to wear surgical masks. [Agencies]


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