China has issued its national red alert for “severe fog” — the most severe warning in a three-tier system of yellow, orange and red — on Tuesday for the first time in history.
The thick layer of toxic gray smog that has shrouded northern, eastern and central China for the past few days is expected to remain until Wednesday, according to Shanghaiist.
Heavy smog also caused China’s National Meteorological Center to issue an orange alert for air pollution in the same areas.
A 12-second time-lapse video, posted to YouTube by British worker Chas Pope on Monday, shows what appears to be toxic smog moving across Beijing over 20 minutes, with skyscrapers becoming almost indistinguishable.
Pope estimated the air quality index, a measure of the pollution, to be above 400 at the time of the video. The U.S. government rates readings of 301 to 500 as “hazardous,” the New York Times noted.
Residents expect such heavy air pollution during winter because people burn coal to heat their homes as the bitter cold grips China.
Poor visibility due to smog has resulted in commuters heading back to Beijing becoming stuck in a traffic jam on Monday.
In December, we reported on primary and middle school teachers in Xian, Shaanxi’s provincial capital, being forced to live stream their lessons to students via WeChat and other platforms because of the airpocalypse.
The first red alert for smog in 2016 was also issued in at least 23 northern cities in China, including Beijing.