Beijing has issued its first ever “red alert” over the city’s smog, with the Chinese capital going into shutdown in an attempt to protect people from the deadly air.
It is the first time ever that the highest possible state of caution has been declared in the city, which has more than 21 million residents.
The warning means schools will have to close down and construction and other industry in the capital will be limited.
Smog levels are actually lowe than they have been in recent weeks. But authorities expect an extreme amount of pollution over the coming days, and have imposed the order to ensure safety during that time.
The order will last from Tuesday morning local time until midday on Thursday, when the weather is expected to change and blow away the smog.
The city had already been in a state of orange alert, which meant some construction and industry was being curbed. The city had also issued a ruling that said cars with odd and even number plates would be stopped from driving on alternate days.
In pictures: Air pollution in China
In pictures: Air pollution in China
Skyline of Puxi, Huangpu River and the Lujiazui Financial District with the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, right third tallest, the Shanghai Tower, right tallest, the Shanghai World Financial Center, right second tallest, and other skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in Pudong at sunrise in heavy smog in Shanghai
A commuter walks in front of the China Central Television (CCTV) building on a smoggy day in Beijing
A magpie flies in heavy pollution in Beijing
A woman wearing a mask practices roller blading at Olympic Park during heavy smog in Beijing
Cyclists and vehicles travel on a road in heavy smog in Beijing
An electronic screen is seen through pollution in Beijing
Ground-staff (L) are seen under an Air China plane at the airport on a polluted day in Beijing
A man wearing a protective mask walks in Beijing
A subway passing bridge on a day of heavy pollution in Beijing
Visitors walk toward Linglong Tower during an extremely polluted day
Policemen wear protective masks at the Tiananmen Square on an extremely polluted day as hazardous, choking smog continues to blanket Beijing
Apartment rooms are lit up with lights during daytime on an extremely polluted day
A pedestrian walks on a bridge on an extremely polluted day as hazardous, choking smog continues to blanket Beijing
A man pulls his luggage past electronic screens showing the Olympic Green park under blue skies, near the National Stadium (R), or the Bird's Nest, amid heavy smog in Beijing
Chinese workers work on a unfinished building during a hazy day in Beijing
Heavy smog is seen in Beijing
Tiananmen Square is seen in heavy smog on a day of high pollution in Beijing
A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard on Tiananmen Square in heavy smog in Beijing
Tourists visit the Olympic Park during dheavy smog in Beijing
woman wears a face mask next to traffic shrouded in heavy smog in Beijing
Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools
Buildings are shrouded in smog in Changsha, Hunan Province
A ship sails up the Huangpu River as heavy smog engulfs the city in Shanghai
A man looks towards a bridge in heavy fog in Beijing
A man and his child wear masks as they visit The Bund in Shanghai. Heavy smog covered many parts of China worsening air pollution
Four workers walk through a panda sculpture during severe pollution in Beijing
A truck containing used plastic bottles travels along a highway covered in haze in Beijing
An attraction for visitors on Chaotianmen beach in Chongqing. The city of Chongqing is one of the fastest-growing urban centres on the planet but it is also suffering from very high pollution
Smoke rising from land as Chinese farmers clear their land for replanting on the outskirts of Tianjin. China's Environment Ministry said it will send inspection teams to provinces and cities most seriously affected by smog to ensure rules on fighting air pollution are being enforced
Steelworkers work at the Chongqing Iron and Steel Factory in Chongqing Municipality
In some parts of Beijing, people can only see around 200m. The air is also packed with poisonous particles that mean that people could become ill simply from being outside.
Air pollution monitors showed areas of Beijing had more than 256 micrograms per cubic metre of the poisonous particles. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says anything over 25 micrograms is considered unsafe.
The poisonous smog in Beijing is caused by the burning of coal for industry and heating, and huge amounts of dust from the city’s many construction sites. The problem is being made yet worse by high humidity and low wind.
Last week, Greenpeace called on Beijing to issue a red alert, after four days of what it called “Airpocalypse”.
“The city is blanketed in a thick, choking smog that has covered an area of North China the size of Spain and Beijing’s most famous landmarks have been completely obscured by the yellow haze,” wrote Zhang Kai on the group’s blog.
Greenpeace praised the Orange Alert that had been declared for putting restrictions on construction and industry, but said that it was “clearly not enough”.
“At this level of response, schools and kindergartens can remain open, meaning that children are risking their health in order to attend class and car emissions haven’t been restricted at all,” the group wrote.Reuse content