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Smog hinders holiday travel


09:13, January 31, 2013

BEIJING, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The smog shrouding north and east China has not only aroused health concerns but postponed seasonal family reunions, blocking roads and grounding planes ahead of the country's great homecoming for Chinese New Year.

Sections of more than 20 expressways in the eastern and central provinces of Hebei, Liaoning, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Henan were closed for heavy fog on Wednesday morning, according to the Ministry of Transport.

The situation has been much relieved from Tuesday when sections of more than 30 inter-provincial highways in north China were closed with visibility drastically reduced by the fog.

The roads had been reopened by noon on Wednesday.

The fog also grounded planes in the affected regions. Forty-nine flights from Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) were canceled on Tuesday as visibility dropped to below 200 meters before the situation improved in the evening.

As the fog has started to weaken on Wednesday, most flight services have resumed, said a BICA official who declined to be named.

However, the country's rail network had continued to operate normally. The Ministry of Railways projected some 5.25 million trips would be made on Wednesday, with 526 extra trains arranged to cope with surging passenger numbers.

A large proportion of the passengers were made up of college students and migrant workers heading home to celebrate Spring Festival, one of the most important holidays in China, after living away from their hometown for a full year.

The national meteorological authorities has forecast a fresh cold front will sweep most parts of the country's central and eastern regions in the coming three days, lowering temperatures and dispersing heavy fog.

The lingering smoggy weather has stirred arguments over environmental protection in the past month, as the smog was found to contain hazardous lung-penetrating airborne matter.

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