Decade's worst sandstorm hits northern China; several flights cancelled

K J M Varma
·2-min read

Beijing, Mar 15 (PTI) Beijing on Monday was enveloped in yellow dust as the most powerful sandstorm in a decade swept through the capital and most parts of northern China, leading to the cancellation of several flights due to poor visibility.

Citizens of Beijing woke up to a bleak yellow sky, with visibility reduced to less than a few hundred metres. The concentration of hazardous airborne particles of PM10 in most areas exceeded 2,000 micrograms per cubic meter, the National Meteorological Center (NMC), which issued a yellow alert, said.

According to the NMC report, the sandstorm blew in from north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region due to the effect of cyclones and strong winds.

It arrived in Hebei Province, which neighbours Beijing, on Sunday night before moving toward the Chinese capital.

'The dust will not become the norm in the future,' said Zhang Bihui, an official with the China Meteorological Administration, noting that national afforestation projects have led to a steady decline in sandy weather.

The dust is expected to gradually settle and clear from Wednesday onwards due to the upcoming cold front and precipitation, the NMC said.

The strong sandstorm hit 12 provinces and cities in northern China from west to east. It was reminiscent of the worst spells of pollution which China experiences every winter.

Several flights in Beijing were cancelled due to poor visibility.

In response to the dusty weather, Beijing Daxing International Airport launched a low visibility operation mechanism as visibility fell to only 400 metres to 800 metres at the airport, affecting a number of flights, state-run Xinhua News agency reported.

The meteorological department of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region issued an orange warning for the sandstorm on Monday, which is only second to red.

The strong sandstorm also affected the northeast of Alxa League as well as cities in Ordos and Baotou, the Xinhua report said. PTI KJV IND AKJ IND