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Thick fog envelops Beijing, much of north China

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, Nov 20 (Reuters) eavy fog enveloped the Chinese capital and much of north China today, forcing the closure of highways across an area as large as Britain.

Since the fog started late yesterday, police have shut down parts of six highways near Beijing and a ring road on the outskirts of the city, Xinhua news agency said.

''Downtown traffic has not been greatly affected,'' it added. The foggy conditions were exacerbated by pollutants in Beijing, known for its chronic poor air quality and where coal-fired heating systems compound exhaust from millions of automobiles in the winter months.

The semi-official China News Service said the fog had hit an area of 218,000 square km, spanning across seven provinces in the country's north and east.

Visibility in parts of the provinces of Liaoning, Shandong and Jiangsu had been a mere 200 metres, delaying more than 40 flights at the airport in Liaoning's capital city Shenyang yesterday, Xinhua said.

The fog was expected to ease in the capital and in the nearby port city of Tianjin, where airports have maintained normal operations, today evening when a cold front and strong winds are forecast to arrive, it said.

Reuters AKJ GC1230

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