China ex­tends pol­lu­tion ‘or­ange alert’

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

BEI­JING and other cities across north­ern and cen­tral China were shrouded in thick smog yes­ter­day, prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to de­lay dozens of flights and close high­ways.

The Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau ex­tended an “or­ange alert” for heavy air pol­lu­tion for three more days. Bei­jing’s smog had ini­tially been fore­cast to lift by yes­ter­day. The or­ange alert is the third level, pre­ced­ing a “red alert” in China’s four-tiered warn­ing sys­tem. On Sun­day, 25 cities in China is­sued “red alerts” for smog, which trig­gers or­ders to close fac­to­ries, schools and con­struc­tion sites.

Air pol­lu­tion read­ings in north­ern Chi­nese cities were many times above the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion-des­ig­nated safe level of 25 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­tre of fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter, the tiny, toxic par­ti­cles that dam­age lung tis­sue. The read­ings ex­ceeded 400 by yes­ter­day af­ter­noon in sev­eral cities in the north­ern province of He­bei.

High­ways in Shi­ji­azhuang, He­bei’s cap­i­tal, and more than a half-dozen other cities there were tem­po­rar­ily closed.

In the cen­tral city of Zhengzhou, au­thor­i­ties or­dered stu­dents from kinder­garten through high school to stay at home today be­cause of the smog.

More than 300 flights out of the north­ern city of Tian­jin were can­celled on Sun­day due to poor vis­i­bil­ity.

Au­thor­i­ties had de­ployed teams of in­spec­tors to check on po­ten­tially pol­lut­ing fac­to­ries, re­ports said.

China has long faced some of the worst air pol­lu­tion in the world, blamed on its re­liance of coal for en­ergy and fac­tory pro­duc­tion, as well as a sur­plus of older, less ef­fi­cient cars on its roads.

Re­searchers at Ger­many’s Max Planck in­sti­tute have es­ti­mated that smog has led to 1.4 mil­lion pre­ma­ture deaths per year in China, while the non-profit group Berke­ley Earth in Cal­i­for­nia has a higher fig­ure – 1.6 mil­lion.

PIC­TURE: AP

A man wear­ing a mask walks on a street in Bei­jing on Fri­day with the cap­i­tal of China cov­ered by heavy smog. Bei­jing and other cities across north­ern and cen­tral China were shrouded in thick smog yes­ter­day, prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to can­cel dozens of flights and close high­ways.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.