New Delhi choked by toxic smog, official compares it ‘gas chamber’

The capital of India has been declared a health emergency due to the toxic smog choking the city, with one official describing it as a “gas chamber.”

Five million masks are being distributed at schools in New Delhi on Friday after health officials declared that the pollution had deteriorated air quality to “severe” levels.

People wear masks on a smoggy evening in New Delhi, India, October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis - RC1AF59327B0

People wear masks on a smoggy evening in New Delhi, India, October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis - RC1AF59327B0

“Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighboring states,” the city’s top elected official Arvid Kejriwal, said in a tweet. “It is very (important) that we protect ourselves from this toxic air.”

INDIAN TODDLER DROWNS IN TUB WHILE PARENTS WATCHED COVERAGE OF BOY WHO FELL INTO OPEN WELL: REPORT

Authorities ordered schools closed until Nov. 5, and Kejriwal announced a plan to restrict the movement of private cars in the capital for nearly two weeks, beginning Monday.

Bangladesh cricket team members wear masks to protect themselves from air pollution as they practice at the nets ahead of their first T20 international cricket match against India in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. 

Bangladesh cricket team members wear masks to protect themselves from air pollution as they practice at the nets ahead of their first T20 international cricket match against India in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.  (AP)

Kejriwal has asked people to use the masks – which are being handed out to students and their parents – as much as possible.

Thick white smog blanketed the city, with residents sharing photos on social media.

INDIAN MAN ARRESTED AFTER EATING SLOTH BEAR GENITALIA TO BOOST SEX DRIVE: POLICE

Air pollution in New Delhi generally peaks around Nov. 1 due to a combination of smog from fireworks set during a Hindu festival and smoke from the burning of agricultural fields in the neighboring states.

Vehicles drive through smog near India Gate in New Delhi, India, October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis - RC1FC81478B0

Vehicles drive through smog near India Gate in New Delhi, India, October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis - RC1FC81478B0

The air quality index reading at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for pollution particles in the air reached nine times the recommended WHO level on Friday. At such levels, people are advised to avoid all outdoor exertion due to health risks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel inspects a joint military guard of honor during her ceremonial reception at the Indian presidential palace in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. Merkel is on a three-day visit to India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel inspects a joint military guard of honor during her ceremonial reception at the Indian presidential palace in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. Merkel is on a three-day visit to India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in New Delhi on Friday. Images from her three-day visit to India show the smog around her.

CYSTIC FIBROSIS PATIENTS, DOCTORS CELEBRATE FDA'S 'LIFE-CHANGING' APPROVAL OF NEW TREATMENT

A Supreme Court-appointed panel of experts has temporarily banned construction activity in the New Delhi region to control the dust in the air.

An expert panel in India's capital has declared a health emergency due to air pollution choking the city, with authorities ordering schools closed until Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

An expert panel in India's capital has declared a health emergency due to air pollution choking the city, with authorities ordering schools closed until Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Meanwhile, private cars running on petrol and diesel will be allowed in New Delhi only on alternate days from Nov. 4 to 15 depending on whether they have even or odd-numbered plates.

Kejriwal said that similar restrictions in 2016 reduced air pollution by up to 13 percent.

An Indian walks up to the stairs as Delhi's skyline is seen enveloped in smog and dust in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.  (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

An Indian walks up to the stairs as Delhi's skyline is seen enveloped in smog and dust in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.  (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

CLICK HERE TO GET FOX NEWS APP

Last month Kejriwal announced plans to sweep roads mechanically, plant trees and control pollution at 12 hotspots in the city.

India is home to many of the world's most polluted cities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.