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Iran Widens Tehran School Closures Due to Smog

TEHRAN, Iran, December 17, 1998 - Iran on Tuesday ordered all schools and universities in Tehran closed until Saturday because of heavy air pollution, state television reported.

It said all educational centres would be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday is the weekly holiday in Moslem Iran.

Heavy smog, with pollutants six times higher than accepted levels, had already prompted officials to close primary and secondary schools on Tuesday and primary schools on Monday.

Pollution experts have asked old people and those with heart or respiratory diseases to leave the city and newspapers have reported deaths from heart attacks due to the thick smog.

From Wednesday, traffic in Tehran will be restricted on the basis of vehicles' number plates, with odd and even numbers allowed to drive every other day, Tehran radio said earlier.

Authorities have stopped selling permits allowing private cars to enter the centre of the capital, where traffic is otherwise restricted to buses and taxis during business hours.

Vehicles are the main source of air pollution in Tehran, a city of up to 10 million people located in a valley at the foot of the towering Alborz mountains, with little wind to disperse the smog.