Dangerous "Airpocalypse" Descends On Beijing

China's capital is blanketed in "hazardous" smog causing highways and schools to be closed.

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Beijing was hit by its first "airpocalypse" of the season, with the air quality levels surpassing 500 - the upper limit of the measurement scale. It was so bad, in fact, that an advertising screen had to act as a sunrise substitute in the sooty darkness.

If smog blocks out the sun, throw up a video of it. Beijing today: MT @joneshen1992 via @comradewong

Jim Sciutto@jimsciutto

If smog blocks out the sun, throw up a video of it. Beijing today: MT @joneshen1992 via @comradewong

06:09 AM - 16 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The US Embassy in Beijing sent out a warning on Wednesday, Jan. 15, that the air quality level had gone above 500 or "beyond index." The concentration of toxic small particles in the air registered more than two dozen times the level considered safe.

oh beijing, trying to surpass 2013 airpocalypse? 605 now per us embassy

Bill Bishop@niubi

oh beijing, trying to surpass 2013 airpocalypse? 605 now per us embassy

12:26 PM - 15 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

On Thursday, the air quality level dipped to "hazardous," which indicates above 300 on the index, far surpassing the World Health Organization's recommended daily level of less than 20.

Shoulda coulda (put off return to Jing had I known air will be this bad) http://t.co/vLrGqpfLbB

Jaime FlorCruz@jflorcruzCNN

Shoulda coulda (put off return to Jing had I known air will be this bad) http://t.co/vLrGqpfLbB

07:24 PM - 15 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

With visibility expected to be less than 500 meters in some parts of Beijing, four major highways linking Beijing to Shanghai, Daqing to Guangzhou, Beijing to Harbin, and Beijing to Pinggu were closed due to the smog, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Highway closed as smog blankets Beijing http://t.co/UyBePod3t9

Xinhua News Agency@XHNews

Highway closed as smog blankets Beijing
http://t.co/UyBePod3t9

03:36 AM - 16 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Beijing's mayor, Wang Anshun, declared an "all-out effort" on Thursday to tackle air pollution by cutting coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and transforming 300 polluting companies this year.

Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun declares "all-out effort" to tackle air pollution http://t.co/zxYg4ywnBq

Xinhua News Agency@XHNews

Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun declares "all-out effort" to tackle air pollution http://t.co/zxYg4ywnBq

09:03 AM - 16 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

On top of banning all heavily polluting vehicles and slashing new car registrations among other measures, the municipal government will earmark $2.4 billion to improve air quality in 2014.

China's Hebei closes 8,300 small high-polluting firms http://t.co/RHzqazRRoh

Xinhua News Agency@XHNews

China's Hebei closes 8,300 small high-polluting firms
http://t.co/RHzqazRRoh

08:06 AM - 16 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Last November, alarming levels of smog shut down the city of Harbin in Heilongjiang province,. The local airport was closed and classes suspended in schools.

Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters

Smoke from a chimney rises in Harbin. The fireworks display that had been held every year of the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival on its opening night was cancelled this year, with organizers citing Harbin's bad air as a reason.

"The skyscrapers in the CBD have all vanished. I could barely see anything from the skywalk where I transfer subway lines every morning," a Beijing resident told Xinhua.

Choking smog shrouds Beijing (Photo by Wang Jiaquan) @twitter @Flickr @tumblr @Storyful

Xinhua News Agency@XHNews

Choking smog shrouds Beijing (Photo by Wang Jiaquan) @twitter @Flickr @tumblr @Storyful

07:45 PM - 15 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Last year, Beijing reported 58 days of serious pollution, which is one every six to seven days on average, according to the director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.

AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan

A tourist takes photos during a heavily polluted day on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Jan. 16.

A recent study cited by the New York Times said air pollution in China led to 12 million premature deaths in 2010.

Kindergartens, primary and high schools in Shanghai will suspend classes on heavily polluted days.

Xinhua News Agency@XHNews

Kindergartens, primary and high schools in Shanghai will suspend classes on heavily polluted days.

01:31 PM - 15 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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