Disasters & Accidents

Beijing chokes as sandstorms affect 409 million people

Beijing, Apr 12 (EFE).- Air pollution in Beijing remained at dangerous levels on Wednesday amid a wave of sandstorms across northern China that have affected 409 million people.

The Chinese capital’s air quality index was close to 350 on Wednesday morning.

Sandstorms sweeping across northern China for three days had covered an area of over 2.29 million square kilometers and affected 409 million by Tuesday morning, the National Forestry Grassland Administration said.

On Tuesday, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) renewed a blue alert – the first level of a four-tier color-coded weather warning system for sandstorms with red representing the most severe – and asked the people to limit outdoor activities as much as possible.

The agency warned that there would be suspended dust particles in most areas above the Yangtze River basin.

The yellow-orange haze that has enveloped many cities in the past two days was one of the trending topics on Chinese social media.

Millions used the hashtag “#sandstorm” to complain about the situation while others joked that they looked like “Terracotta Warriors” by the time they arrived at work.

The effects of the storm, according to the weather authorities, could even be felt in the eastern Shanghai city, where pollution levels are normally much lower than those of the large cities in the north and center of the country.

The storms originated in Mongolia and moved in a southeasterly direction late Monday, entering China through the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to the NMC.

Meteorologist Zhang Mingying told the state-run Global Times newspaper this week that the weather phenomena was caused by less rain and snow in northern China during winter and spring, which has led to a severe drought, making it easier for dust emissions in sand source areas.

Zhang predicted that conditions would improve from late April or early May with an increase in rainfall.

The NMC estimates that the number of sandstorms that occurred in 2023 in the north of the country is the highest in the last decade, although the levels of suspended particles are similar to those registered in previous years. EFE


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