BEIJING (Reuters)

Some regions of China could suffer heavy pollution because of fireworks and unfavourable weather conditions during Lunar New Year celebrations, despite a ban on firecrackers in more than 400 cities, the Ministry of Environmental Protection warned

“Some regions are likely to see heavy or even severe air pollution because of intense fireworks and firecrackers,” said the ministry in a statement late on Tuesday.

 

Man wearing a face mask rides a bicycle on a bridge in front of the financial district of Pudong covered in smog during a polluted day in Shanghai
A man wearing a face mask rides a bicycle on a bridge in front of the financial district of Pudong covered in smog during a polluted day in Shanghai, China November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

 

Lunar, or Chinese New Year, which starts on Feb. 15 this year, is China’s most important holiday, and families and revellers traditionally celebrate with several nights of fireworks and firecrackers. The cacophony is believed to drive away bad spirits and usher in an auspicious start to the year.

 

People make sure that all firecrackers and fireworks have exploded during celebrations for the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year of Monkey in Beijing
People make sure that all firecrackers and fireworks have exploded during celebrations for the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year of Monkey in Beijing, China February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

 

More than 400 cities across China, though, have banned fireworks since last year to curb air pollution during the 15-day holiday and reducing deadly accidents, which are common.

Smog-prone northern China, including the capital city of Beijing, is expected to see heavy pollution from Thursday through Saturday, said the environment ministry.

 

Forbidden City and other buildings are seen amid smog in Beijing
Forbidden City and other buildings are seen amid smog ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, China February 13, 2018. Picture taken February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

 

Severe air pollution is also likely in Heilongjiang and Liaoning province in the northeastern China, Anhui and Zhejiang provinces in the east, Sichuan and Xinjiang region in the west, and also some regions in southern China, it said.

 

 

Industrial plants would typically be ordered to cut production during days of heavy smog, though most factories would have already closed for the holidays.

Some businesses will extend the holiday until March 3, although the official holiday period lasts through Feb. 21.

 

(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Editing by Tom Hogue)

 

Decorations for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year
Decorations for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year are pictured near a park on a polluted day in Beijing, China February 13, 2018. Picture taken February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

 

Forbidden City is seen amid smog ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing
Forbidden City is seen amid smog ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, China February 13, 2018. Picture taken February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

 

The City skyline is seen amid smog ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing
The City skyline is seen amid smog ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, China February 13, 2018. Picture taken February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee