Fog and pollution descended on northern China yesterday, leading to flight cancelations and road closures at a time when millions of Chinese were heading home as a week-long national holiday neared its end.
The haze hanging over the capital, neighboring Hebei Province and the port city of Tianjin would persist until this afternoon, China’s National Meteorological Center said.
It said in some areas of Beijing, visibility had dropped to less than 500m yesterday morning.
The oppressive smog in the capital sparked a high pollution alert from the US embassy, which monitors air quality. In an e-mail to US citizens, it said its readings had averaged more than 300 on its air quality index in the 24 hours beginning on Friday evening and more than 400 overnight on Saturday.
Anything over 301 on the US Environmental Protection Agency scale is considered hazardous to health. It recommended people stay indoors and run air purifiers continuously.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese travel during Golden Week, which is characterized by long lines of traffic and delayed journeys. Yesterday the partial closure, according to state media, of six inter-provincial expressways, including one linking Beijing and Shanghai, complicated things further. Nearly 30 highways were also restricted around the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, state media said.
Beijing Capital International Airport said four international flights had been canceled yesterday morning, including to Mongolia and Russia, while three had been delayed. Two domestic flights were canceled and 20 delayed.
The airport said yesterday flights were returning to normal and visibility was expected to increase to 1km to 1.5km yesterday afternoon.