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China: Beijing issues historic 'red alert' as pollution levels soar02:34

China: Beijing issues historic 'red alert' as pollution levels soar

China, Beijing
December 8, 2015 at 08:14 GMT +00:00 · Published

Beijing's city government issued its first 'red alert' in response to high pollution levels in the Chinese capital, Tuesday, with much of the city shut down including schools, construction sites and public services.

The special measures were enforced after Beijing's Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection broadcasted several warnings on Monday that hazardous levels of pollution were expected to shroud Beijing for the following days. The red alert was issued from 07:00 local time on Tuesday (23:00 GMT on Monday) and valid until 12:00 on Thursday (04:00 GMT).

According to the US Embassy in Beijing, which regularly measures Beijing's air quality and updates twitter users on a hourly basis, the air quality index (AQI) hit a maximum of 250 this morning, about 10 times higher than the considered "healthy threshold" by the World Health Organisation.

Despite the high levels of pollution, many residents of Beijing felt that the air quality was actually worse in the previous week, when several AQI-measuring websites pointed at levels above 500, or "above index."

In the meantime, all public schools were told to remain closed, hundreds of factories were shut down for the day, the number of cars on the roads was restricted on a even-odd basis and heavy vehicles including transportation and garbage trucks were banned from driving in the city.

China: Beijing issues historic 'red alert' as pollution levels soar02:34
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Beijing's city government issued its first 'red alert' in response to high pollution levels in the Chinese capital, Tuesday, with much of the city shut down including schools, construction sites and public services.

The special measures were enforced after Beijing's Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection broadcasted several warnings on Monday that hazardous levels of pollution were expected to shroud Beijing for the following days. The red alert was issued from 07:00 local time on Tuesday (23:00 GMT on Monday) and valid until 12:00 on Thursday (04:00 GMT).

According to the US Embassy in Beijing, which regularly measures Beijing's air quality and updates twitter users on a hourly basis, the air quality index (AQI) hit a maximum of 250 this morning, about 10 times higher than the considered "healthy threshold" by the World Health Organisation.

Despite the high levels of pollution, many residents of Beijing felt that the air quality was actually worse in the previous week, when several AQI-measuring websites pointed at levels above 500, or "above index."

In the meantime, all public schools were told to remain closed, hundreds of factories were shut down for the day, the number of cars on the roads was restricted on a even-odd basis and heavy vehicles including transportation and garbage trucks were banned from driving in the city.