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Heavy fog dampens Beijing's blue sky ambition

(Xinhua)

23:06, October 23, 2011

Heavy fog enveloped Beijing for the fourth consecutive day yesterday, with five interprovincial expressways closed and bumper-to-bumper traffic on urban roads.

The foggy weather began on Wednesday in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province.

At least five interprovincial expressways in Beijing were closed early yesterday for safety considerations, including expressways to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tianjin.

Parts of the Sixth Ring Road in outer Beijing were also closed briefly but reopened late yesterday morning, the Ministry of Transport said.

Complaints about the foggy weather spread quickly on the Internet, as the mist and subsequent congestion dampened many people's plans for weekend outings.

"It's been seven hours and I'm still stranded on the road. I wish I could arrive in Beijing soon," said Internet user Hao Changkun from Langfang, a small city in Hebei Province, which is normally just an hour's drive from Beijing.

Traffic was at a standstill on many Beijing roads, as many people, unprepared for the fog, chose to go hiking in the mountains in the suburbs and enjoy the maple leaves that turn red in fall.

Meanwhile, the foggy weather threatens to dampen the environmental watchdog's ambition to reduce pollution in the capital.

Daily air quality reports released by the China Environmental Monitoring Center indicated Beijing's air has been polluted for four consecutive days.

Beijing has reported 234 "blue sky days" so far this year, still 41 short of the year's target of 275 days, according to the city's environmental protection bureau.

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