Wed, Dec 07, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Chinese go online to vent their anger over pollution

AFP, BEIJING

Millions of Chinese went online yesterday to vent their anger over the thick smog that has blanketed Beijing in recent days, raising health fears and causing hundreds of flights to be canceled.

Sales of facemasks were reported to have surged as residents of China’s heavily polluted capital sought to protect themselves from the air, which US embassy figures ranked “very unhealthy.”

Beijing’s main airport canceled hundreds of flight because of the poor visibility on Sunday and Monday, angering passengers at the world’s second-busiest airport.

Visibility had improved by yesterday, but 80 domestic and 10 international flights had been canceled by midday because of light snow.

Users of Sina Weibo — one of China’s hugely popular microblogging sites — expressed frustration at the delays to their journeys, with one saying it had taken him 24 hours to travel to Beijing from the southern city of Shenzhen.

“I’m exhausted. All of this was because of the thick smog,” Hu Yueyue wrote in one of 4.4 million comments on pollution posted to the microblogging site yesterday.

“Today is another fine smog day in Beijing. I wore a mask this morning. I don’t know how long I can live if I breathe this hazardous air all day long,” another posted.

One online retailer reported selling 100 facemasks fitted with air filters to a single customer in Beijing, according to the Global Times daily.

Taobao.com, China’s biggest online retailer, sold 30,000 masks on Sunday, when the US embassy in Beijing rated the air as “hazardous,” Xinhua news agency said.

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