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Thick smog shrouds skies over capital

By Deng Jingyin (Global Times)

08:52, January 11, 2012

Nearly 130 flights were delayed or canceled in Beijing due to the thick smog shrouding the city Tuesday morning, as the US embassy's PM2.5 read "beyond index" on the scale.

The PM2.5 air quality index system, which rates levels above 150 as unhealthy, above 200 as very unhealthy and above 300 as hazardous, stopped producing figures as the maximum limit of 500 was breached Tuesday morning.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its Sina microblog account Tuesday that the maximum PM10 density measured in the morning had reached 560 micrograms per cubic meter of air, with excessive pollutants in the air.

However, the center said the air quality in the city was "good" however.

The city's meteorological center said thick fog reduced visibility to less than one kilometer in most areas, and even less than 100 meters in some parts of the city.

"The smog began at dawn and caused the density of particulate matter to increase. It began to clear around midday as cold air came from the north and the wind speed picked up," Niao Xiaonong, chief meteorologist at the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Heavy smog also hit Hebei, Henan, Anhui, Shangdong and Jiangsu provinces, as well as some provinces in the south, resulting in traffic problems.

Five car accidents occurred on a section of the Beijing-Shanghai expressway in Cangzhou, Hebei Province Tuesday, leaving one person dead and 10 vehicles damaged, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

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