Kathmandu, March 26 -- Kathmandu Valley endured one of the worst air quality in recent years on Friday as wildfires fanned by strong winds scorched forests in the Himalayan foothills.

NASA Worldview satellite photographtaken at 1300hrs on 26 March showed thick smoke being blown into Himalayan Valleys and across northern India.

Most of Central Nepal has seen an unusually dry winter with only 15% of the normal precipitation in January and February, and this has left the slopes tinder dry. This is also the time of year when farmers burn crop residue and brush to make fields ready to sow maize.

TheAir Quality Index (AQI) in Kathmandu Valleyat 1500hrs was 632, which is nearly 20 times worse than what the World Health Organisation regards as...