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Beijing lifts red alert for smog as skies clear

Beijing has lifted the red alert it imposed several days ago in response to heavy smog. The government had closed schools and restricted traffic in response to the poor air quality, some of the worst China has seen.

The red alert issued by China for a period of three days was lifted on Thursday, as an expected cold front drove the worst of the pollution from Beijing's skies.

The government put the red alert in place on Tuesday, following the emergence of heavy smog in the city of roughly 21.5 million people. It was the first time the highest level of a four-color warning system introduced by Beijing in 2013 was implemented.

As part of the alert, schools were closed and traffic was restricted, with cars forced to drive alternate days as determined by their license plates.

The worst is over - for now

State news agency Xinhua said the measures proved effective in limiting the pollution, and also thanked city residents for their cooperation.

In recent days, the PM2.5 index, which measures the level of harmful particles in the air, was at 300 microgrammes, but had fallen to 100 by late Thursday. Still, that is well above the World Health Organization's safe maximum of 25.

Nonetheless, Beijing residents had something to rejoice about: As of Thursday afternoon, the worst of the smog had reportedly dissipated and blue skies had returned once more to the Chinese capital.

blc/msh (AFP, dpa)

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