China's smoggiest city closes schools amid public anger

Since Friday a choking miasma has covered a large swathe of northeastern China, leaving more than 460 million gasping for breath.

China's smoggiest city closes schools amid public anger

World Bulletin / News Desk

China's smoggiest city closed schools Wednesday as much of the country suffered its sixth day under an oppressive haze, sparking public anger about the slow response to the threat to children's health.

Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, was one of more than 20 cities which went on red alert Friday evening, triggering an emergency plan to reduce pollution by shutting polluting factories and taking cars off the road, among other measures.

Nowhere has been hit as hard as Shijiazhuang, which has seen a huge rise in pollution.

But the city's education department waited until Tuesday evening to announce it was closing elementary schools and kindergartens, following similar moves in nearby Beijing and Tianjin.

The announcement said middle and high schools could close on a voluntary basis.

The statement on the education department's official social media account provoked anger.

"Are middle school students' bodies' air purifiers?" one incredulous commentator asked, adding: "Are you going to wait for us all to become sick before you step up to fix this?"

A picture from Linzhou City in neighbouring Henan province, showing more than 400 students sitting an exam on a football pitch after their school was forced to close, was widely circulated on social media and further fuelled discontent.

The city education and sports bureau has suspended the school principal for organising the outdoor exams, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Aralık 2016, 16:21