The skies across major cities in Northern China, including capital Beijing, turned yellow on Thursday. Dangerously high levels of pollution in the Asian country have led to gigantic sandstorm. Authorities have suggested people to stay indoors and take necessary precautions to keep themselves safe.
More than 10 provinces including several big cities have been hit by sand and dust storm. A total of 1.6 million sq km which is almost 15% of China’s total land area has been affected by this unprecedented natural calamity, according to reports coming out in local media. It is believed that the effects of the sandstorm will be visible till Saturday.
Apparently, the storm originated from the deserts of Mongolia. The winds were so strong that the trees in its path were fell by their force. Strong winds and poor visibility led to the cancellation of several international flights scheduled to fly in and out of Beijing.
The pollution levels in Beijing have risen to disturbingly high levels. The air quality index (AQI) recorded on Thursday afternoon rose from the moderate 100 to beyond index 621. According to the government data, the average PM2.5 reading in some parts of the capital was as high as 684 micrograms. For reference, this is 27 times more than World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended exposure level over 24 hours.