Res­i­dents brace for thick smog

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHENG JINRAN zhengjin­ran@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

“Smog is com­ing!” That was what Yan Jie and her friends mostly talked about on Fri­day af­ter­noon on so­cial me­dia.

“I saw a pic­ture show­ing smog rolling in from the south to re­place the blue sky in the north,” said the 30-year-old Bei­jing res­i­dent.

Most of Yan’s friends live in Bei­jing and are en­thu­si­as­tic fans of the pop­u­lar TV se­ries Game of Thrones.

“I feel hor­ri­fied at the thought of chok­ing air, so I bor­rowed the say­ing ‘Win­ter is com­ing’ from the TV se­ries to de­scribe how I feel about smog,” she said.

Yan added that she would stay at home with her baby for the week­end and turn on air pu­ri­fiers.

Satel­lite pic­tures up­dated hourly by the Bei­jing En­vi­ron­men­tal Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­ter showed thick smog grad­u­ally mov­ing in from south to north.

Many Bei­jing res­i­dents shared sim­i­lar feel­ings as they dis­cussed the ap­proach­ing thick layer of haze on Fri­day on so­cial me­dia like WeChat and mi­cro blogs.

“In the morn­ing, I was con­fused as to why the government had is­sued a red alert, since the sky was still blue,” said Zhan Minghui, 33, who works for an in­ter­net com­pany.

“Now I think the early warn­ing is nec­es­sary, and I hope it will work.”

The Bei­jing government an­nounced the red alert, the high­est emer­gency re­sponse level against air pol­lu­tion, on Thurs­day night. The alert, the first of this year, took ef­fect at 8 pm on Fri­day and was ex­pected to be lifted on Wed­nes­day, when air qual­ity is fore­cast to im­prove.

With the red alert in place, pri­vate car own­ers are al­lowed to use the roads only on al­ter­na­tive days based on odd or even li­cense plate num­bers.

The city's ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­ity also or­dered kinder­gartens, pri­mary schools and pri­vate train­ing cen­ters to sus­pend classes. Mid­dle schools can de­cide for them­selves whether to can­cel classes.

Re­stric­tions are also im­posed on the city’s in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

Twenty-one other cities in north­ern and cen­tral parts of the coun­try also ac­ti­vated red alerts for smog.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, parts of He­bei, Shan­dong and He­nan prov­inces were shrouded in thick smog, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Cen­ter.

The smog was fore­cast to be­come thicker and reach peak lev­els over the week­end in Bei­jing, Tian­jin and many cities in He­bei prov­ince.

Vis­i­bil­ity is ex­pected to be less than 500 me­ters in some ar­eas, the cen­ter said.

SUN JUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Tourists visit Jing­shan Park in cen­tral Bei­jing on Fri­day af­ter­noon as smog started to shroud the city.

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