News / Asia

Flights Delayed as Air Pollution Hits Record in Shanghai

An electronic screen and buildings are seen amid heavy smog at the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, Dec. 6, 2013.
An electronic screen and buildings are seen amid heavy smog at the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, Dec. 6, 2013.
Reuters
Hundreds of flights were delayed or cancelled on Friday in China's commercial hub of Shanghai as record levels of air pollution shrouded the city in smog, prompting authorities to issue their highest level health warning.
 
The incident is especially embarrassing considering it comes at a time when China seeks to build Shanghai into a global business hub on par with the likes of London, New York and Hong Kong by 2020.
 
On Friday afternoon, the Shanghai government issued its health warning as the city's pollution index ranged between 23 times and 31 times the levels recommended by international health officials.
 
In the first such advice since a new health warning system was launched in April, authorities urged residents to stay indoors and asked factories to either cut or halt production.
 
“I don't think it's fit for people to live in this kind of environment,” said Shanghai resident Fan Jianjun, 34, who wore a face mask as he walked through the opaque air in the Lujiazui financial district.
 
“But I have no choice. I still need to work. I can only take preventive measures but I have no idea whether they work,” he continued.
 
Air quality in cities is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed leaders, who are anxious to douse potential unrest as more affluent citizens turn against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has polluted much of the country's air, water and soil.
 
The government has announced many plans to fight pollution over the years but has made little apparent progress.
 
Most of the flights leaving Shanghai's Pudong International Airport have been delayed, according to the airport's website. Pudong was the world's third busiest cargo airport in 2011, data from the Airports Council International shows.
 
Hazardous air pollution forced schools to shut or suspend outdoor activities in at least two cities in eastern China on Thursday. Some schools in Shanghai cancelled outdoor activities on Friday as well.
 
The unusually noxious haze was caused by several factors, including industrial pollution and auto emissions trapped by cold, windless weather, said Xu Bin, an associate professor at Shanghai's Tongji University.
 
By 0700 GMT, the level of PM2.5 particulate matter, or tiny particles in the air that are the most hazardous to health, reached a “severely polluted” 466, according to the Shanghai government's monitoring website.
 
A similar measure by the U.S. consulate in Shanghai showed a reading of 503, a level described as being beyond the index on its website.
 
Levels above 300 are considered hazardous; the World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid