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Beijing hit by hazardous sandstorm

Residents the Chinese capital Beijing woke on Sunday morning to find the city shrouded in thick dust, caused by hazardous sandstorm.
It was the second sandstorm in two weeks to hit the city, due to winds from drought-hit Mongolia and northwestern China.
Visibility in the city was reduced, with the tops of some skyscrapers obscured by the sandstorm.
Pedestrians were forced to cover their eyes as gusts of dust swept through the streets.
“It’s quite serious today. There’s always a day or two like this (of pollution or dust) each month,” said Mr. Fan, 39, who did not wish to disclose his full name.
Beijing’s official air quality index reached a maximum level of 500 on Sunday morning, with floating particles known as PM10 surpassing 2,000 micrograms per cubic metre in some districts.
Readings of smaller PM2.5 particles were above 300 micrograms per cubic metre, far higher than China’s standard of 35 micrograms.
PM2.5 particles are especially harmful because they are very tiny and can enter the bloodstream, while PM10 is a larger particle that can enter the lungs.
The China Meteorological Administration issued a yellow alert on Friday, warning that a sandstorm was spreading from Mongolia into northern Chinese provinces including Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Liaoning and Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.
The meteorological office said the recent sandstorms to hit Beijing originated from Mongolia, where relatively warmer temperature this spring and reduced rain resulted in larger areas of bare earth, creating favourable conditions for sandstorms.
Beijing might face more sandstorms in April due to the unfavourable weather this year, the meteorological office said.

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