Blue skies return after smoggy weekend
Residents of the country’s northern regions embraced blue skies on Monday following thick smog that smothered more than 60 cities on the weekend, which was the first time different regions have issued alerts jointly.
A cold front with strong winds helped disperse airborne pollutants, blowing them southward, but also lowered temperatures in northern regions, as much as 12 degrees in some areas, the Central Meteorological Observatory said on Monday.
The cold front is due to last for about five days, bringing with it good air quality, it said.
After the cold front fades, some cities in northern regions will see smog return on the weekend, Zhang Zuqiang, spokesman for the China Meteorological Administration, said on Friday.
Though the most recent bout of heavy smog dispersed on Monday, it affected many people in more than 60 cities in seven provinces and municipalities over the weekend, including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Shandong, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.
The ministry sent early warnings to the affected governments three days ahead of the arrival of the smog, requiring them to take joint controls to reduce air pollution.
The cities issued different levels of emergency responses, making it the first time the country has issued such joint alerts, the ministry said.
Among the 60 cities, nine, including Shijiazhuang and Baoding of Hebei province, issued red alerts, the highest emergency response in a four-tier system, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
In addition, 24 cities issued orange alerts, 22 issued yellow alerts and the remaining five issued blue alerts, the ministry said.
For the different alerts, the government enforced various restrictions to reduce emissions of pollutants, and tightened monitoring of such restrictions over the weekend. The ministry sent four inspection teams to Hebei and Shandong provinces, which exposed violations, especially by high-polluting and small companies, the statement said.
The ministry has called on local environmental authorities to deal with exposed violations severely and tighten monitoring during heavy smog.
“The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has been listed as one of the zones with severe air pollution among regions from North Africa to East Asia,” Wang Jinnan, chief engineer of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, was quoted as saying by Legal Daily.
Firefighters attend the site of an accident after a bus collided with an oncoming truck in Mangshi, Yunnan province, on Sunday. Nine people died and 20 others were injured in the incident, which occurred at about 3 pm, according to the city’s information office. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
People drive through smog in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, on Monday. The province issued a blue alert, the lowest level, for air pollution.