Macedonian capital offers free transport to fight pollution

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Municipal authorities in Macedonia's heavily polluted capital are offering residents free use of public transport to reduce the use of cars.

Concentrations of toxic airborne particles in Skopje have been about 20 times above safe levels for the past 10 days.

Macedonian health authorities say that the city of around 750,000 is now Europe's most polluted capital, with poor air quality blamed for the premature death of 1,300 people each year.

The problem is mainly attributed to heavy use of wood-burning stoves and road traffic. The measure announced Tuesday will apply until pollution levels drop.

Officials say pollution contributed to 30-35 percent of deaths during the winter period over the past three years in Skopje, with the figure in other capitals rarely exceeding 20 percent.