Here’s what China looks like under “red alert” smog

China’s pollution problem is so bad this week that the world is running out of descriptors: if the air was apocalyptic and dystopian earlier, it is an absolute horror movie now.

The situation is so bad that the government issued an unprecedented “red alert” earlier this week in Beijing and state-backed newspapers are reporting on the situation regularly, aggressively and even outside China.

People’s Daily newspaper tweeted this short, terrifying video of China’s “dancing aunties,” women who do team dance to music in public parks, nearly enveloped by the smog:

(Yes, it does look a little like a scene from Michael Jackson’s Thriller or, as People’s Daily points out, Silent Hill, a 2006 movie about an haunted town where it rains ash.)

In northern China’s Tianjin Harbor, the main port to Beijing, it was hard to see beyond the piers on Dec. 9:

Tianjin Harbor
Tianjin Harbor (weibo/@KEE-MING)

While in Taigu county in Shanxi province west of Beijing, the pollution was so thick that middle school’s athletic field was barely visible from a few stories above:

Taigu Shanxi Province. JPG
Taigu Middle School (@叫我大哥好不好)

Here’s the field on a clearer day.

Buildings in Xinzhou, also in Shanxi, were almost invisible from across the street:

In Xinzhou, Shanxi province.
In Xinzhou, Shanxi province. (Sina Weibo/@ 今天你笑了吗d)

While in Beijing itself, a flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square was so occluded the flag was practically invisible:

People film with their cameras during a flag-raising ceremony amid heavy smog at the Tiananmen Square, after the city issued its first ever "red alert" for air pollution, in Beijing December 9, 2015.   REUTERS/Damir Sagolj      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY            - RTX1XTUL
(Reuters/Damir Sagolj)


Reporting by May Shi.

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