Chinese motorways forced to close as eastern region hit by dense fog - or is it smog?

Weather bureau issues red alert as visibility falls to 50 metres in at least 10 cities across Shandong province

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 1:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 1:23pm

Dozens of motorways across eastern China were forced to close on Friday after heavy fog descended on the region, reducing visibility to less than 50 metres in some areas, local media reported.

The Shandong meteorological bureau raised its fog alert to red – the highest in a three-tier scale – in 10 cities across the province, Qilu Evening News reported.

Despite the severe weather warning, many internet users questioned whether the problem was natural or man-made.

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“I’m wondering whether it’s fog or smog. Can the government clarify this?” a person wrote in a comment on news website 163.com.

“The officials daren’t acknowledge that it’s smog,” another person said.

A third was bolder, suggesting the air’s hue was evidence of pollution.

“If it’s fog, why is the air black? No one believes it is just fog,” the person said.

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Several parts of northern and central China have experienced air pollution problems in recent days, with authorities in both Tianjin and Changsha, capital of Hunan province, issuing smog alerts and forecasting the situation would last for several days.

The National Meteorological Centre said that motorists in affected areas should take extra care, and advised airport, road and port authorities to take the appropriate safety measures.

China has a three-tier, colour-coded warning system for fog and smog, with red being the most serious, followed by orange and yellow.