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February 24, 2010

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Intense fog stops ferry traffic across Huangpu

IN the morning light yesterday, the Huangpu River merged into a mist of dense fog - the docks across the banks could hardly be seen.

Neither could the ferries.

For the first time in recent years, all river-crossing ferry traffic was shut due to heavy fog yesterday morning.

City traffic police temporarily allowed cyclists, who found themselves stuck on the docks, to pass through three tunnels normally off-limits to bicycles and motorcycles.

With police cars leading the way, cyclists crossed the river through the Dalian Road, Fuxing Road and Xiangyin Road tunnels. Motorcyclists were given a lane on the Xupu Bridge, said the police.

Elsewhere in the city, the dense fog delayed at least 130 flights at the city's two airports.

It closed a number of toll booths on the city's five expressways and forced the cancellation of 30 long-distance buses.

But downtown traffic, including ground and elevated roads, was not affected during the morning rush, police said.

Shanghai Meteorological Bureau issued a yellow fog alert, the lowest of the three-level system, at 5:40am yesterday. Officials increased that to orange, the second highest, at 7:20am, pegging visibility at less than 200 meters in most of the city.

The east and north parts of the city were murkiest, with visibility less than 150 meters in places, the bureau said.

The alert was lifted at 9:30am when the fog dispersed.

The fog was caused by warm, moist air blowing in from the sea, said Man Liping, chief service officer of the bureau.

She said light fog should appear this morning in the coastal areas of the city but "won't be as heavy as this one."

Shanghai maritime authorities said yesterday that the fog had started to affect the waterways late on Monday.

All 18 ferry routes along the river banks, from upper-stream Songjiang District to the Wusong port area, were closed from 4am yesterday, according to the local ferry company.

Traffic police soon took the seldom-used emergency traffic measure of escorting cycles through the tunnels. They ended that at 8:45am, police said. By then, the ferry service had resumed, except for one route in Minhang District that didn't reopen until 10:30am.


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