Air pollution cancels 224 flights in China capital
Authorities in China have been forced to cancel hundreds of flights and close expressways in the capital, Beijing, as thick smog caused by air pollution continues to engulf the country’s northern and eastern regions.
On Saturday, Chinese officials announced that all expressways to the south of Beijing were closed due to the smog that has reduced visibility to less than 100 meters in some parts of the megacity.
The air pollution and snow cancelled 224 scheduled flights and delayed more than 80 others in the Beijing Capital International Airport.
This is while data from Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center showed concentration of harmful particulate matter — known as PM2.5 — had reached 340 micrograms per cubic meter near Tiananmen Square.
The haze has also caused a surge of patients with respiratory issues at local hospitals.
“I feel like I’m spitting up dust,” said a patient. “If it were just a sore throat, I would take some pills and drink more water at home. But this time it got so serious I came here to the hospital.”
According to the weather forecast from the National Meteorological Center (NMC), incoming cold air could help blow away the smog later on Saturday.
Besides the capital, Shanghai, the most populated city in China, is also grappling with sever air pollution.
The China Daily reported that about 50 cities in northern and eastern China have issued air pollution alerts.
In recent years, China has seen extremely high levels of air pollution particularly in the northeast, the industrial heartland of the country.