Photos: Beijing witnesses biggest sandstorm in decades

  • On March 15, pollution levels in Beijing surged off the charts as the worst sandstorm in a decade descended on China's capital from the Gobi desert. According to Chinese weather agencies, the poor air quality on a sandstorm sweeping across northern China arrived from northern Mongolia, where authorities there said it had left several dead, before being carried south by winds and reducing visibility in Beijing to less than 500 metres. Experts believe that lack of rain or snow recently made the ground extra dry which eventually resulted in a severe sandstorm.
PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST 9 Photos
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High-rise buildings engulfed in a thick layer of smog in the central business district of Beijing during a sandstorm on March 15. Beijing was cloaked in thick smog on March 15 with pollution levels surging off the charts as the worst sandstorm in a decade descended on China's capital from the Gobi desert.(Leo Ramirez / AFP)

High-rise buildings engulfed in a thick layer of smog in the central business district of Beijing during a sandstorm on March 15. Beijing was cloaked in thick smog on March 15 with pollution levels surging off the charts as the worst sandstorm in a decade descended on China's capital from the Gobi desert.(Leo Ramirez / AFP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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Vehicles are seen on an expressway during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15.(Mark Schiefelbein / AP)

Vehicles are seen on an expressway during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15.(Mark Schiefelbein / AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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A visitor wearing a face mask films birds flying past the Forbidden City at Jingshan Park during the sandstorm, in Beijing, on March 15. Residents used goggles, masks and hairnets to protect themselves from the choking dust and sand, with landmarks including the Forbidden City partly obscured behind an apocalyptic-looking haze.(Tingshu Wang / REUTERS)

A visitor wearing a face mask films birds flying past the Forbidden City at Jingshan Park during the sandstorm, in Beijing, on March 15. Residents used goggles, masks and hairnets to protect themselves from the choking dust and sand, with landmarks including the Forbidden City partly obscured behind an apocalyptic-looking haze.(Tingshu Wang / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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A woman hangs a sign outside a shop during the morning rush hours in Beijing, on March 15. Hundreds of flights were cancelled due to the sandstorm and the city government ordered schools to cancel outside sport and events and advised the public to stay inside where possible.(Thomas Peter / REUTERS)

A woman hangs a sign outside a shop during the morning rush hours in Beijing, on March 15. Hundreds of flights were cancelled due to the sandstorm and the city government ordered schools to cancel outside sport and events and advised the public to stay inside where possible.(Thomas Peter / REUTERS)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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A woman cycles along a street during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Chinese weather agencies blamed the poor air quality on a sandstorm sweeping across northern China from northern Mongolia, where authorities there said it had left several dead, before being carried south by winds and reducing visibility in Beijing to less than 500 metres, AFP reported.(Noel Celis / AFP)

A woman cycles along a street during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Chinese weather agencies blamed the poor air quality on a sandstorm sweeping across northern China from northern Mongolia, where authorities there said it had left several dead, before being carried south by winds and reducing visibility in Beijing to less than 500 metres, AFP reported.(Noel Celis / AFP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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Commuters cross a street during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Under heavy skies, which draped buildings in an eerie glow, residents fretted over the health risks of a storm which compounded days of hazardous PM 2.5 pollution in Beijing.(Andy Wong / AP)

Commuters cross a street during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Under heavy skies, which draped buildings in an eerie glow, residents fretted over the health risks of a storm which compounded days of hazardous PM 2.5 pollution in Beijing.(Andy Wong / AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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Cyclists cross a road during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Pan Xiaochuan, a Beijing-based environmental health expert, told AFP that the lack of recent rain or snow meant the ground was extra dry and made the sandstorm "very fierce."(Greg Baker / AFP)

Cyclists cross a road during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Pan Xiaochuan, a Beijing-based environmental health expert, told AFP that the lack of recent rain or snow meant the ground was extra dry and made the sandstorm "very fierce."(Greg Baker / AFP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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A woman walks her dogs during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Beijing said last year it expected fewer and weaker sandstorms to hit northern China due to its reforestation efforts, AFP reported.(Ng Han Guan / AP)

A woman walks her dogs during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. Beijing said last year it expected fewer and weaker sandstorms to hit northern China due to its reforestation efforts, AFP reported.(Ng Han Guan / AP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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A woman walks along a bridge at Houhai lake during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. A 2019 study published in the journal Nature Sustainability found some two million square miles of vegetation had been added to the surface of the earth since 2000, a quarter of which was contributed by China, AFP reported.(Noel Celis / AFP)

A woman walks along a bridge at Houhai lake during the sandstorm in Beijing, on March 15. A 2019 study published in the journal Nature Sustainability found some two million square miles of vegetation had been added to the surface of the earth since 2000, a quarter of which was contributed by China, AFP reported.(Noel Celis / AFP)

PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:30 PM IST
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