Beijing roads were cleared of traffic Monday in an emergency response to hazardously high pollution levels there, Bloomberg reported, part of a severe environmental crisis seeing fierce public backlash.
Pollution levels in Beijing reached their worst levels ever recorded over the weekend, said the Los Angeles Times.
The heavy smog prompted panicked headlines, like, “How can we get out of this suffocating siege of pollution?” from the ruling party's People's Daily, according to Reuters.
BBC News said the issue had "dominated" social media platforms in China, with the nation's Global Times tabloid demanding that the government "publish truthful environmental data to the public."
The New York Times on Sunday cited residents describing the air pollution in Beijing as “postapocalyptic,” “terrifying” and “beyond belief," while hospitals are reportedly filling up with patients sickened by pollution, said Bloomberg.
Extended exposure to poor air quality can cause severe cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.
Officials cited by Bloomberg said the smog, which has coated the capital for three days now, is expected to last through Jan. 16.
The air quality level in the Chinese capital reached 755 over the weekend — meaning so much was floating around that air matter size had grown to 2.5 micrometers in diameter, according to Reuters. The World Health Organization considers a figure higher than 300 a hazard to health.
The index was at 500 as of early Monday, said Bloomberg, but BBC cited Chinese officials as saying it had dropped to 350.