China's top steelmaking province of Hebei issues orange smog alert

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China's top steelmaking province of Hebei issues orange smog alert

FILE PHOTO – Chinese national flags are flying near a steel factory in Wu’an, Hebei province, China, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – ** China’s Hebei province, home to the country’s biggest steelmaking cities, issued an orange pollution alert on Friday as a wave of smog was expected to blanket the region.

** Orange alerts, the second-highest after red in China’s four-tier pollution warning system, require industrial companies to cut output by at least 30 percent.

** The alert will take effect in 11 cities in Hebei at 8:00 a.m. (0000 GMT) on Saturday, the Hebei environmental protection bureau said on its official Wechat account.

** Moderate to severe pollution is expected to be prevalent in central and southern parts of Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, from Feb. 17 and could last until around Feb. 22, the statement said.

** The affected areas include Tangshan, China’s biggest steelmaking city, provincial capital Shijiazhuang and another major steel hub, Handan.

** Cities should strengthen supervision and inspection measures but may lift the emergency measures themselves when the air quality improves, the statement said.

Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Christian Schmollinger