Shocking images show women forced to don masks during fashion event in smog-hit Chinese city of Nanjing
- The models at the jewellery showcase were forced to don masks
- Nanjing, in China's Jiangsu province, has endured a smog cloud for six days
- Air pollution due to rapid urbanisation and coal-fired power stations
By Ruth Styles
PUBLISHED: 06:41 EST, 8 December 2013 | UPDATED: 08:26 EST, 8 December 2013
Elegant in their long white dresses and spectacular gold jewellery, accessorised with medical masks, the women sashayed down the catwalk to applause from watching fashionistas.
But while masks have become a common sight on catwalks in London and Paris, for one Chinese designer, their inclusion was no attention-grabbing publicity stunt.
Thanks to sky high levels of air pollution In Nanjing, the capital of the smog-hit Jiangsu province, the masks were insisted upon by officials concerned about the impact of doing an outdoor show on models' health.
Contrast: The model's elegant ensemble and giant gold necklace jars with her essential surgical mask
Pollution: Smog in Nanjing is now so bad that flights into and across the city have been affected
Air pollution is becoming an increasingly serious issue in the world's most populous country, with scores of coal-burning power stations pushing emissions to a level that is 40 times higher than the safe limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.
In Nanjing, and capital Beijing, conditions worsen in winter thanks to additional demand for power and have been exacerbated by the country's rapid urbanisation.
And it's not just fashion shows that are affected by the poisonous clouds: so thick is the lingering smog, flights into and across China are regularly disrupted.
The current outbreak of smog is affecting the Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Henan provinces, although the capital has also been badly hit.
Emissions: The problem has been caused by increased demand for power during winter and urbanisation
Audience: Like the models, the watching fashionistas were also forced to don surgical masks thanks to smog
Other cities to face smog-related problems during the outbreak, which has lasted for more than a week, include Shanghai and Hangzhou.
But it is Nanjing that is enduring the worst of the smog, with officials putting the city on red alert according to Chinese news agency, Xinhua.
Speaking to the agency, one woman said: 'It stinks like smoke. The air really scratches in your throat. We've never experienced such terrible smog.'
Stunning: Despite the grim cloud of smog that overshadowed the show, the jewels on display proved popular
Hazardous: Air traffic has been badly affected after smog caused visibility to drop to less than 50 metres
'It stinks like smoke': Other cities affected by terrible smog include Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou
Worst hit: Nanjing, in the Jiangsu province of China, is currently on red alert because of the air pollution
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