Smog grounds Shanghai flights
SHANGHAI: Hundreds of flights were delayed or cancelled yesterday in China’s commercial hub of Shanghai as record levels of air pollution shrouded the city in smog, prompting authorities to issue the highest level of health warning.
This is especially embarrassing at a time when China seeks to build Shanghai into a global business hub on par with the likes of London, New York and Hong Kong by 2020.
On Friday, Shanghai issued its severest health warning as the city’s pollution index shot up to 31 times the levels recommended globally.
In the first such advice since a new health warning system was launched in April, authorities urged residents to stay indoors and asked factories to either cut or halt production.
“I don’t think it’s fit for people to live in this kind of environment,” said Shanghai resident Fan Jianjun, 34, who wore a face mask.
“But I have no choice. I still need to work.”
Air quality in cities is of increasing concern to China’s leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as more affluent citizens turn against a growth- at- all- costs economic model that has polluted much of the air, water and soil.
The government has announced many plans to fight pollution over the years but has made little progress.
Most of the flights leaving Shanghai’s airport have been delayed. Pudong was the world’s third busiest cargo airport in 2011, data from the Airports Council International shows.
Air pollution forced schools to shut or suspend outdoor activities in at least two cities in eastern China on Thursday. Some schools in Shanghai cancelled outdoor activities.
The unusually noxious haze was caused by several factors, including industrial pollution and auto emissions trapped by cold, windless weather, said Xu Bin, an associate professor at Shanghai’s Tongji University. – Reuters