Massive fumes from burning oil wells in Iraq’s Mosul have turned the city into a “living hell”. According to citizens, life has become unbearable in the northern Iraqi city which is currently under the control of the Islamist terrorist group the Islamic State. Just like Delhi, the air in Mosul has become excessively polluted but in comparison, there’s nothing that comes close to the serious level of toxic gases and pollution present in the city’s atmosphere currently.
In the midst of an armed offensive by Iraqi forces to capture parts of the city, ISIS fighters torched 12 oil wells that have spewed toxic fumes into the atmosphere. NBC News quoted from Oxfam’s country director in Iraq Andres Gonzalez’s statement: “Even after ISIS has left, many of the people living amid its trail of destruction have told us that life remains unbearable. Burning oil wells continue to spew out toxic fumes that burn people’s throats and turn their communities into a smoke-filled hell.”
The air pollution situation in India’s capital Delhi has remained alarming since the last two weeks with the city turning into a gas chamber of sorts. The pollution levels spiked to nearly 42 times above the danger mark in some areas.
Citizens have reported an increase of at least 60 per cent in the number of respiratory cases due to air pollution during this period. Delhi has become the most polluted city during this time and the smog has engulfed the city and refuses to dissipate due to cold weather and moisture in the air.
Comparing to the situation in Mosul, the issues caused by the resultant air pollution are similar, the causes are different and the gravity of the current pollution levels is unprecedented. The toxic fumes and black smoke from the burning oil wells have blocked out the sun and covered the city in a cloud of gloomy darkness. The dark black clouds have also decreased the breathability of the air in the city.
The greyed faces of children can be seen covered with oily soot and people in the streets are seen moving around with handkerchiefs or masks on their faces as breathing in the city is nearly life threatening.
At least a thousand cases of respiratory ailments have already been reported in the ISIS controlled city. People living near the burning oil wells told Oxfam that the fumes have burned their throats and they have severe problems in breathing. Adding to this, babies and infants are struggling to breathe and fight for their life.
There is a massive amount of toxic sulphur dioxide gas constantly released into the city’s atmosphere and a major worry is upsurge in the cases of bronchitis in the population. The situation becomes more troubling as the population has limited access to medicines and minimal emergency medical aid.
The non-profit organisation has asked the Iraqi forces and the government to make efforts to douse the oil wells which will keep on burning till either the entire reserves are burnt out or explosive dousing is carried out. The ISIS fighters torched the oil wells to cover their trails and block out any aerial raids by Iraqi forces on ISIS locations. The group still controls six more oil wells and the city’s air has all the potential for turning into breathable poison.