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Severe health warning for young and old as serious levels of air pollution chokes Hong Kong

Bad air said to be caused by passage of tropical cyclone Megi, which is disrupting air traffic between Hong Kong and Taiwan

There was something in the air on Monday as parts of the city saw a return to “serious” levels of air pollution, particularly to the west, with the haze expected to remain until Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Department said the condition was caused by a nearby tropical cyclone which created favourable conditions for the formation of air pollutants.

The department warned the pollution levels would remain high on Tuesday but said cloudier weather and a few showers ­on Wednesday may see it ease.

At 4pm on Monday, the air quality health index in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun soared to 10+, the most severe warning on the scale, meaning a “serious” health risk.

During a serious health risk, children, the elderly and people suffering from heart or respiratory illnesses are advised to stay indoors as much as possible.

Tung Chung, also to the west of the city, recorded an index of 10, bearing a “very high” health risk.

On Monday morning, the air pollution level hovered between three and five on the index, meaning a low to moderate health risk, at all air monitoring stations, but turned worse in the afternoon.

The high levels started to drop at around 6pm.

The department said the hot weather and afternoon haze was caused by the outer subsiding air of the Taiwan-bound tropical cyclone Megi, which created favourable conditions for the formation of photochemical smog activity and ozone – leading to high pollution in the region. Light winds hindered the dispersion of pollutants.

Meanwhile, the passage of the storm disrupted air traffic between Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair cancelled nine flights to and from Taipei and four flights to and from Kaohsiung on Tuesday.

They also announced a number of delays on Tuesday and Wednesday involving four flights between Hong Kong and Kaohsiung and three between Hong Kong and Taichung,

Dozens of China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines and Eva Air flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan were also suspended.

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