China’s worst sandstorm in decades

Photo: Andy Wong/ AP

China’s capital and a wide swath of the country’s north were enveloped Monday in the worst sandstorm in a decade, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Skyscrapers in the centre of Beijing appeared to drop from sight amid the dust and sand.

Traffic was snarled and more than 400 flights out of the capital’s two main airports were cancelled before noon.

Such storms used to happen regularly in the springtime as sand from western deserts blew eastwards, affecting areas as far as northern Japan.

Massive planting of trees and bushes in fragile areas have reduced the storm’s intensity but the expansion of cities and industries has put constant pressure on the environment throughout China.

The National Meteorological Center declared the sun and dust would affect 12 provinces and regions from Xinjing in the far northwest to Heilongjiang in the northeast and the eastern coastal port city of Tianjin.

“This is the most intense sandstorm our country has seen in 10 years, as well as it covering the broadcast area,” the centre said in a post on its website.

Source: Khaosod English