China has been hit by the worst sandstorm in a decade, on Monday. As many as 12 provinces in the country including the capital Beijing were shrouded in thick brown dust. Neighboring Mongolia was also severely affected by the sandstorm.
The dust storm brought people’s lives to a standstill in Beijing and many other places. About one-fifth of the flights arriving and departing at Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport were cancelled by noon.
— Tom Mackenzie (@TomMackenzieTV) March 14, 2021
According to the Chinese Meteorological Agency, the sandstorm had spread from Inner Mongolia into the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi, and Hebei, which surround Beijing. They issued a yellow alert on Monday morning reminding the public in the affected regions to close doors and windows and wear masks and scarves to protect themselves.
Beijing traffic police warned residents to take care and keep their distance from construction sites, temporary structures, billboards, or other places where there are likely to be falling objects. Education authorities have asked schools and off-campus educational institutions to suspend outdoor activities and take protective measures.
Beijing’s official air quality index reached a maximum level of 500 on Monday morning, with floating particles known as PM10 reaching 2,000 micrograms per cubic metre in some districts. As per the World Health Organization, the average daily PM 10 concentrations of no more than 50 micrograms is recommended.
Winds are expected to move south into the Yangtze River Delta, and the weather is expected to change by Wednesday or Thursday. According to the Ministry of Environment, the proximity of the Gobi Desert, deforestation, and erosion across northern China are the main causes of sandstorms.
China’s Xinhua News Agency reported that, on Sunday, the neighboring region of Mongolia was also severely affected by heavy sandstorms. In Mongolia also, planes had to make emergency landing and many people were reported missing.