China: Red alert issued in Hebei province after thick smog shrouds cities

Hebei province, which borders capital city Beijing houses several China's polluting factories

Smog in China
Residents on their bicycles and electric bikes wait for the traffic at an intersection amid heavy smog in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, December 10, 2015. Picture taken December 10, 2015 Reuters

A red alert has been issued in China's northern Hebei province, factories suspended and cars pulled off roads after thick smog shrouded the region, posing an unprecedented health emergency.

It has been reported that the unnatural conditional prompted the authorities to issue the high-level warning for air pollution for the first time in the year of 2016. The authorities also informed that this condition is likely to prevail till 4 December putting most cities in the province's central and southern regions on high alert.

The Global Times reported that while several cities, like Langfang, Cangzhou, Hengshui and Xinji, recording poor readings, provincial capital Shijiazhuang's Air Quality Index (AQI) reading reached 500 on Wednesday night.

Though experts argue that this level of toxic air is extremely harmful and can prove hazardous to health, education authorities are yet to announce if classes in schools and colleges are suspended, reported the news agency.

The official Xinhua news agency also reported that some cities are planning to put a partial ban on cars depending on the odd or even numbers on their license plates. Moreover, factories Xingtai city have been ordered to reduce the emission to half.

Hebei province, which borders capital city Beijing, has garnered criticism for being the hub of heavy polluting industries. In November, Tangshan city of the province, which is China's top steel making city, was forced close down some of its factories to control the pollution level in the air.