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Fog Delays Flights To And From Beijing

Heavy fog delayed flights and snarled traffic in Beijing Monday morning, the first day back to work after the week-long holiday,according to today's China Daily.

Visibility in eastern parts of the capital city was reduced to less than 100 metres.

The Beijing Capital International Airport was shut down in the morning, and most flights scheduled to arrive in Beijing were forced to land at nearby airports.

Japanese Premier Junichiro Koizumi, in China for a one-day working visit, was delayed for nearly an hour before landing at the capital airport.

Airport officials were not immediately available Monday, but a passenger who arrived from Germany described a crowded waiting hall full of stranded travellers.

Her plane was forced to land in Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province at about 10 am before flying onto Beijing about two hours later.

She said many international flights to Beijing from Europe were forced to land in Dalian as well.

The Beijing airport reopened shortly after the fog lifted, but even then only a limited number of flights were allowed to take off.

Most of the delayed flights took off by the afternoon, and few passengers were stranded at the airport by evening.

Dense fog also forced the local communication bureau to shut several highways linking Beijing and other cities Monday morning.

Many cars and trucks sat at the highway entrances until the roads opened again at noon.

Traffic was not severely disrupted downtown since the fog was not as heavy there as in the suburbs.

While the fog is expected to pass, a cold spell may stay for a couple of days, said Xie Zhuang, a senior engineer with the Beijing Meteorological Observatory.

Xie said this week's temperatures are about two to three degrees lower than the temperatures this time last year.

"But in the later part of this month, temperatures are expected to return to normal conditions." Xie said.

-- source: People's Daily

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