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[In Photos]: Here's why Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and Sherlock Homes were masked in London

Salma Rahman | Updated on: 19 April 2016, 12:50 IST

There was something unusual about some famous statutes in London on 18 April. Seventeen statutes, including one of Horatio Nelson on Trafalgar Square, were donning face masks.

No, this wasn't an artistic modification but a part of an awareness campaign organised by British environmentalists to draw attention to the issue of air pollution.

Photo: Lord Nelson Statue
Photo: Lord Cromwell Statue

According to news agency AFP, two campaigners from Greenpeace scaled the 171-foot Nelson's Column yesterday to put a mask on the famous naval commander.

Photo: Eros statute

Queen Victoria near Buckingham Palace, Eros at Piccadilly Circus and Winston Churchill outside Parliament were also made to wear the masks.

Photo: Baudica statue
Photo: Isaac Newton statue

However, London's Metropolitan Police reportedly arrested eight people - two on Trafalgar Square, four on Parliament Square and two on Hyde Park Corner.

Photo: Achilles statue

Issuing a statement, Greenpeace said it aimed to highlight health risks caused by the city's poor air quality.

"Monitoring shows that, if these statues were real people, many of them would often be breathing dangerous, illegal air," campaigner Areeba Hamid said. "That's why we've given them face masks. Of course many millions of Londoners, including kids, are breathing that same air."Of course many millions of Londoners, including kids, are breathing that same air."

Threat in the city

Photo: Theirry Henry

The English capital has recorded some of the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide in Europe and Britain has been ordered to reduce pollution by the European Commission.

According to calculations by King's College London, nearly 10,000 Londoners lose their life prematurely to air pollution.

Photo: Sherlock Homes statue

In London, polls will be held in May to elect a new mayor to replace Boris Johnson and the main candidates - Labour's Sadiq Kahn and Conservative Zac Goldsmith - have promised environmental action.

"Kitting everyone out with face masks is not the solution. Instead we need to see real political action from the new mayor," Hamid said.

Photo: Dr Salters Daughters Statue

Photos by: Chris Ratcliffe/ Greenpeace

First published: 19 April 2016, 12:50 IST
 
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