Passengers disembark a plane which was delayed due to heavy smog at the Qingdao Liuting International Airport in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on Monday. Several flights had been delayed or cancelled in Qingdao due to the smoggy weather. Photo: CFP
Environmental authorities in Beijing said on Tuesday that air quality in the capital has been improving in the past three years, while China's national observatory issued the first ever national red alert for fog on the same day.
Even though the New Year begins with an orange alert for heavy pollution, the average concentration of PM 2.5 has decreased by 9.9 percent, the biggest such drop, in the past three years, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said at a press conference on Tuesday, the Beijing News reported.
According to the bureau, the air quality on 198 days reached the required standard in 2016 in Beijing, together with 39 days of heavy pollution.
The southwestern area of Beijing had the worst quality of air in the city, while the northeast region enjoyed the best, said the Beijing News.
Meanwhile, China's national observatory on Tuesday issued a red alert for fog in a number of northern and eastern areas, the first ever national red alert for fog, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
On Tuesday night, 200 cities in China had an Air Quality Index surpassing 200.
From Tuesday to Wednesday, thick fog in parts of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as well as provinces of Henan, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu will reduce visibility to less than 500 meters, the National Meteorological Center said.
In extreme cases visibility may fall below 50 meters in these regions, it added.
The center said automobile drivers in affected regions should slow down to safe speeds, while airports, highways and ports should take necessary safety measures.
The center also renewed an orange alert for smog for the same period in northern, eastern and central China, with severe smog continuing to blanket the regions since Friday.
China has a four-tier color-coded warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue, according to Xinhua.
A cruise from Tianjin to South Korea and Japan with more than 2,000 tourists was finally ashore on Monday after two extra days of drifting on the sea near the Tianjin port in North China due to the heavy smog, the Beijing Evening News reported on Tuesday.
According to the Jiangsu-based Jinling Evening News, data from online tourism and ticket-booking sites showed that more people are choosing to travel to South China or foreign destinations to escape from smog in the upcoming spring festival holidays.
In Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, a total of 12 schools equipped with broadcasting facilities were giving lessons online on Tuesday, the first school day of 2017 and the third day of the city's high level smog alert, Xinhua reported.
Qianjiang Evening News reported on Tuesday that some experts have been listing suspects that caused smog, and natural gas became the latest addition to the list of factory emissions, car exhaust, burning straw and even smoking meat.