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Beijing's Smog Levels Registers Hazardous Smog Levels (PHOTOS)

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Just two weeks into 2014, Beijing is witnessing its first smog emergency of the year.

The air quality index for China's capital city, which measures the concentration of pollution particles, currently stands at 347 -- while the AQI should not exceed 25 micrograms per cubic meter normally.

The AQI has been dangerously high since yesterday and the U.S. State Department announced the situation is "hazardous."This concentration of smog, the State Department website notes, can lead to "serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly," as well as "serious risk of respiratory effects in general population."

Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that several highways have been closed, and the government has issued a yellow smog alert due to reduced visibility. "The skyscrapers in the CBD [Central Business District] have all vanished," said one citizen, according to Xinhua. "I could barely see anything from the skywalk where I transfer subway lines every morning."

If you were on the ground in Beijing today, this is what you might have seen:

You might be attired thusly...

beijing smog

You might marvel at the mysterious smoggy beauty of the Forbidden City...

beijing smog

You might really pity this guy and offer him a face mask...

beijing smog

You might wonder what masochistic urge lead these people to vacation in such a polluted city...

beijing smog

You might at once begrudge these weapons of mass pollution and envy the shelter they provide...

beijing smog

You might get lost on your way to work...

beijing pollution

And then the city might disappear altogether...

beijing pollution

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