Beijing issues second smog red alert of the month

    Beijing issues second smog red alert of the month

    Dec 18, Beijing: Beijing authorities have issued its second smog red alert of the month on Friday, triggering vehicle restrictions and forcing schools to close.

    The Chinese capital will endure dense smog from Saturday until Tuesday, the Beijing Meteorological Service said.

    The Meteorological Centre said a wide area from Xian in central China to Harbin in the north-east would also be affected.

    A wave of smog is due to settle over the city of 22.5 million from Saturday to Tuesday. Levels of PM2.5, the smallest and deadliest airborne particles, are set to top 500, according to the official Beijing government website, news reports said.

    That is more than 20 times the level that is considered safe by the World Health Organization.

    Half the city's cars will be forced off the road on any given day, while barbecue grills and other outdoor smoke sources will be banned and factory production restricted. Schools will close and residents advised to avoid outdoor activities.

    Smog red alerts are triggered when levels of PM2.5 above 300 are forecast to last for more than 72 hours.

    Although the four-tier smog warning system was launched two years ago, Beijing had not issued a red alert until last week, drawing accusations that it was ignoring serious bouts of smog to avoid the economic costs.

    Scientific studies attribute 1.4 million premature deaths per year to China's smog, or almost 4,000 per day.

    China still depends on coal for more than 60 percent of its electricity but is in the process of shifting to nuclear, solar and wind power.

    The Oslo Times