China issues 1st alert for pollution in 2016

Beijing: Smog returned to haunt China in the New Year as it issued its first alert of 2016 for pollution – an orange for the second-most serious level for several cities and provinces including the capital Beijing.

The weather observatory upgraded its fog alert from yellow to orange for Saturday evening to Sunday morning under the country’s four-tier warning system, with red as the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Fog will be thickest in Hebei, Shandong and Henan provinces with visibility less than 200 metres, according to the National Meteorological Centre.

Visibility will be less than 500 metres in Beijing, Tianjin, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan, weather observatory said, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Snow – to hit northern and northeastern China – will disperse smog on Monday and Tuesday, while rain will sweep some parts in the south, according to the observatory.

The public has been warned to take protective measures when engaging in outdoor activities, and those who suffer from respiratory diseases are advised to stay indoors.

Earlier, the Centre had issued an yellow alert for Beijing and several other cities for pollution as smog returned to haunt the Chinese in the New Year. The new alert was issued in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei cities, and Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces.

The levels of PM2.5, the smallest and deadliest form of airborne particulate matter, touched 300, regarded as very harmful for citizens.

The Centre for the first time sounded red alert for smog on December 7, leading to a host of measures including shutting down schools and regulating traffic with odd and even numbers.

It repeated the alert two weeks later as the smog levels worsened.

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