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23 Eerie Photos Of The Smoggy "Airpocalypse" Engulfing Chinese Cities

Schools in the capital Beijing kept children inside Tuesday after authorities raised the pollution levels to "orange" — the second highest possible.

Posted on December 1, 2015, at 9:36 a.m. ET

Major urban centers in north and eastern China have been engulfed by thick smog in recent days. The capital Beijing's pollution levels were increased to "orange alert" — the second highest designation — on Sunday, the BBC reported.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

A toll gate closed due to smog on a highway between Beijing and Hebei province on Nov. 30.

The arrival of the thick smog — dubbed the "airpocalypse" — comes as the country's President Xi Jingping attends the COP21 climate change conference in Paris.

China Stringer Network / Reuters

Pudong New District in Shanghai on Nov. 30

On Sunday, the U.S. embassy in Beijing recorded 625 micrograms per cubic meters of PM2.5 — hazardous particles that embed inside lungs — 25 times the maximum of 25 micrograms per cubic meter recommended by the World Health Organization , the AFP reported.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

A dog inside a car stranded on a highway between Beijing and Hebei province on Nov. 30.

By Tuesday, the smog index in Beijing had jumped to 900 — 35 times the safe level, according to the BBC.

Xiao Lu Chu / Getty Images

A residential community is blanketed by smog on Nov. 30 in Beijing.

The smog index in Shanghai was at at 171 on Monday, according to Al Jazeera.

Chinafotopress / Getty Images

Lujiazui Financial District, Shanghai, shrouded in smog on Nov.30

In Beijing, landmarks such as the Bird's Nest Stadium — the centerpiece of the 2008 Olympic Games — and the China Central Radio and Television (CCTV) building were barely visible.

China Daily China Daily Info / Reuters

The National 'Bird's Nest' Stadium in Beijing on Dec. 1.

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

Outside the Bird's Nest Stadium on Dec. 1

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

The China Central Television (CCTV) building in Beijing on Dec. 1

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

A visitor tries to see the city of Beijing through binoculars on a viewing deck on the China Central Radio and Television (CCTV) Tower in Beijing on Dec. 1.

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

An indoor viewing deck on the China Central Radio and Television (CCTV) Tower on Dec. 1.

While not as thick as in Beijing, a smoggy haze also engulfed the towers of Shanghai's financial district.

Chinafotopress / Getty Images

Aly Song / Reuters
Aly Song / Reuters

A woman cleans a glass panel on a residential building during a hazy day in Shanghai, China on Nov. 30.

Other cities — such as Nanjing in Jiangsu province — have also been affected.

Xinhua / REX Shutterstock

Broadcasting tower in Nanjing, Nov. 30.

Authorities in Beijing and nearby Hebei province have ordered factories to cut production, according to the BBC.

Wang Zhao / AFP / Getty Images

A couple wear masks as they walk in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, Dec. 1.

Schools in the capital were ordered to keep children indoors Tuesday.

Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

A residential community in Beijing, Dec. 1.

Heavy duty trucks have also been forced off the roads.

Jason Lee / Reuters

Vehicles drive past buildings amid heavy smog in Beijing's Guomao area, on Nov. 30.

Some Beijing children have been taken to hospital with pollution-related ailments, according to the AP.

Greg Baker / AFP / Getty Images

A woman waits for a bus in Beijing, Dec. 1.

Liu Feifie, a 36-year-old mother and tech worker, told the AP: "It's the worst day so far this year. I feel my throat totally congested with phlegm and it feels very itchy. But I'm more concerned about the health of my 7-year-old kid."

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

The Zhengyangmen in Tiananmen Square on Nov. 30.

Yin Lina had brought her 5-year-old daughter to hospital with a stuffed nose. "The government is supposed to be tackling the pollution, so we need to see the effects. If in a few years the situation does not change, we will consider leaving," she said.

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

The smog in Beijing, Dec. 1.

Burning coal — China's main source of power — has been blamed for the smog, and chilly November temperatures have led to an increase in its use in both private homes and power plants.

Jason Lee / Reuters

A woman covers her mouth with her hair, Beijing, Nov. 30.

High humidity and a lack of wind have also contributed.

Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

A man rides a tricycle with plastic bottles to be recycled in Beijing, Dec .1.

In February, the Chinese government revealed that only eight of the country's biggest 74 cities passed the government's basic air quality standards in 2014.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

A baby inside a vehicle stranded on a highway between Beijing and Hebei province on Nov. 30.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.