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Strong winds hit Beijing and neighboring areas on Friday, delaying flights and trains and causing accidents that left at least 26 people injured, according to authorities.
Strong winds topples down a telephone booth, smashing a car by the roadside in Beijing, March 23, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]
The heavy wind started about 9 am on Friday and gradually escalated to gale force with gusts reaching 62 kilometers to 88 kilometers per hour around 1 pm, according to Sun Jinsong, chief forecaster of the Beijing meteorological bureau.
Sun said four other provinces and municipalities in north and east China in addition to Beijing were affected by the gale-force wind.
"Usually strong wind is caused by the arrival of strong cold air, and it is very common for North China to have gale-force winds in spring." said Sun in a phone interview. "However, unusually, the gale winds today were caused by a combined force of a horizontal pressure-gradient force (the acceleration of air due to a pressure difference) and a strong down draft air."
More than 20 flights were delayed at Beijing Capital International Airport and six others canceled, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Passengers are stranded by strong winds at the Beijing South Railway Station in Beijing, March 23, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]
Eight high-speed trains heading toward Beijing were delayed by one to two hours as authorities had them cut their speed to ensure the safety, according to a statement by the Beijing Railway Station.
Zhang Qingsheng, from Qingdao of Shandong province, said on his micro blog that his bullet train heading from Beijing to Hangzhou was delayed at Langfang in Hebei province for more than two hours.
Beijing's emergency rescue center said 26 people were injured in accidents caused by fallen advertising boards and trees.
"Suddenly sand was blowing in from the mountains and the asphalt strips used to cover sheds were blown all over," said Zheng Yuping, a 55-year-old resident of Yanqing county in Beijing.
"I never saw wind that strong in my life. Even the streetlight poles were shaking," Zheng said.
The meteorological authority of Beijing said in a statement that the wind would lose force through Friday night into Saturday.
Xin Dingding in Beijing contributed to this story.
Pedestrians walking in the Dongzhimen area of Beijing. Strong wind hit the capital and neighboring areas on Friday. [Photo by Zou Hong / China Daily]