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Wind helps blow away Tehran pollution

TEHRAN, Iran, January 11, 2000 (AFP) - The pall of pollution hanging over Tehran thinned somewhat Tuesday after a strong wind the previous evening, but people were still being advised not to go out in their cars, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Electronic panels showed the pollution levels at "dangerous" throughout Monday, but schools remained open. Pollution alerts twice closed schools in Tehran in December.

A plan to alternate traffic allowed on the streets according to their number plates -- allowing even numbers one day, and odd numbers the next -- has not yet come into effect, although drivers are advised to follow it.

Tehran, a city of 10 million located at the foot of a mountain range which limits the free circulation of air, is considered one of the most polluted cities in the world, along with Mexico City, Bangkok and Jakarta.

Some 70 percent of the city's pollution is caused by vehicles, the overwhelming majority of which come nowhere near official exhaust emission standards and drive around unbothered by an indifferent police force.

At the beginning of the month Tehran mayor Morteza Alviri announced a 15-year, 2.2 billion dollar plan to tackle the longstanding problem. One of the measures is to be regular inspections of vehicles.