In late January, a fire broke out in a landfill in Mumbai, India, and the plume of smoke being produced is so massive that NASA Earth Observatory is publishing pictures of the fire taken from space. While you can’t exactly see the landfill from so high up, the trash piles at Deonar dumping ground reportedly reach up to 30 meters, equivalent to nine stories tall — not surprising considering that the landfill handles 3,700 metric tons of waste every day.
What’s really horrifying, however, is the effect the fire has on the ground. The four-day blaze caused air pollution to spike in some areas of the city, resulting in the closure of more than 70 schools. Changes in wind direction helped spread the smog in multiple directions, compounding the problem. The air quality was the worst ever recorded in Mumbai, with an index of 341, completely shrouding buildings in thick brown smog. Children, seniors, and anyone with breathing problems were advised to stay indoors.
There were no CCTV cameras installed at the site so no one actually saw the start of the blaze. However, some are reporting that a group of three children between ages 10 and 12 were responsible. The children were spotted setting fire to some of the garbage at the landfill, but fled the scene before anyone could reach them. They have not been identified.
Images via NASA