Sandstorms whip across China

Updated: 2010-03-22 17:10
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BEIJING: Beijing and much of eastern China was hit by dust and sand Monday, two days after the capital was plagued by the first severe sandstorm this spring on Saturday.

"The sandstorm from Mongolia arrived in Beijing Monday morning, and is expected to weaken by Monday evening," said Zhang Mingying, senior engineer with the Beijing Meteorological Station.

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He said the sandstorm borne by strong winds had swept over north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and Shanxi and Hebei provinces.

"Dust and sand left from Saturday's sandstorm was still affecting Beijing Monday," Zhang said.

"Although the sky was not as orange as Saturday, the smell of the dust was stronger on Monday," said Li Nan, a Beijing resident.

The Beijing environment monitoring center has ranked Monday's air quality as "level four," meaning it was hazardous with moderate pollution. The level was one grade lower than that of Saturday, which was graded was level five, the worst pollution.

The particulate density hovered above 1,500 mg per cubic meter in Beijing's city proper Monday morning, causing serious pollution, according to the center's report at noon.

Duan Li, chief weatherwoman with the Beijing Meteorological Station, said Beijing was unlikely to see more sandstorms this week, but the city's air quality would not be significantly improved in the next two days because of the two successive sandstorms.

Kang Ling, deputy director of the weather station in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said unlike Saturday's sandstorm, the storm on Monday completely originated outside China in Mongolia, and China's Inner Mongolia region was on the sandstorm's path, but not severely affected.

The weather in Hohhot, the regional capital, was clear and sunny Monday.

The Central Meteorological Station said the impact of the successive sandstorms had stretched to eastern and southern regions. The station urged people to close doors and windows, and cover their faces.

The scenic city of Hangzhou, famous for its lake landscape, in east China's Zhejiang Province was blanketed in haze on Monday.

Fujian Province, in southeast China's coast, was also shrouded in haze. Visibility in many cities in the province was down to about 3,000 meters.

Liu Aiming, deputy director of the Fujian Meteorological Station, attributed the haze to the sandstorms from the north.

"The winds have blown a large amount of particulate matter and fine dust to the coastal region since the weekend, where it has created the haze," he said.

Tu Jingfang, a pediatrics doctor with the Jiangsu Hospital of Chinese and Western Medicine in east China's Jiangsu Province, said the department had seen a sharp increase in the number of asthma patients since the weekend, which could be attributed to the hazy weather.