Northern China faces scorching heat and smog

Inner Mongolia has been hit by a string of wildfires since the beginning of this month, including this one in Hulunbuir on Wednesday.
Inner Mongolia has been hit by a string of wildfires since the beginning of this month, including this one in Hulunbuir on Wednesday.PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • China's national observatory has issued a yellow alert for high temperatures in the northern provinces, even as residents in the Chinese capital brace themselves for a smoggy weekend.

The latest round of air pollution came just days after China curbed traffic and production to ensure clear skies for last weekend's Belt and Road Forum, its most important diplomatic event of the year.

The high temperatures and more intense sunlight since Monday have created conditions conductive to a build-up of pollutant ozone in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Thursday.

It said the region, which is home to 130 million people, could experience middle to heavy air pollution starting from yesterday. Ground-level ozone from industrial petrochemical emissions is particularly harmful to lungs and vision.

The air quality could improve slightly next week, when cold air lowers temperatures in the region, reported South China Morning Post.

Already, the heat wave has sent temperatures in some provinces soaring to historic highs for the month of May.

The National Meteorological Centre said temperatures in some parts of Liaoning and Hebei provinces could rise to 39 deg C.

It forecast that some regions in Inner Mongolia region could see temperatures above 35 deg C.

Inner Mongolia has been hit by a string of wildfires since the beginning of this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Northern China faces scorching heat and smog'. Print Edition | Subscribe