Date
23 October 2017
A file picture (inset) of the skyline of Beijing's central business area on a sunny day stands in contrast to an image taken during a dust storm on May 4. Photo: Reuters
A file picture (inset) of the skyline of Beijing's central business area on a sunny day stands in contrast to an image taken during a dust storm on May 4. Photo: Reuters

Beijing hit by severe sandstorm and off-the-charts smog

The Beijing municipal government has urged the public to avoid going outdoors after the capital city was battered by the worst sandstorm since 2002, causing a spike in pollution levels.

The Beijing meteorological authorities issued a blue alert on Thursday, the highest level on the warning system for sandstorm.

A terrible sandstorm swept through the city early yesterday, carrying sand and dust particles brought by prevailing winds from the Gobi Desert and turning the sky into a murky haze.

The heavy smog caused by the extremely abnormal weather condition is not expected to ease until Saturday as strong wind from the north strengthens gradually on Friday.

In the meantime, people living in the metropolis have to put up with terrible air quality and poor visibility on the streets, which was as low as 500 meters in some areas

On Thursday, the concentration of PM2.5 — particulate considered the must dangerous to people’s health —reached an eye-popping level of 500 micrograms per cubic meter, according to data recorded by multiple air-quality monitoring stations in Beijing.

That was way off the charts, given that the PM2.5 level recommended by the WHO is only 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

The reading for PM10 also peaked 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter, suggesting the air was extremely polluted.

But Beijing is not the only victim of the sandstorm.

A dozen provinces in the northern, northwest and northeast regions that cover about one-fifth of China’s land, or about 2 million square kilometers, were all swept by it, Sing Tao Daily reports.

In Beijing, there is some speculation as to whether the sandstorm will force organizers of an upcoming Belt and Road summit to rethink their plans.

The “One Belt, One Road” international summit is scheduled to be held in the city on May 14 and 15.

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TL/AC/RC

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