Beijing was hit by a strong dust storm that is rare in the past 10 years. On Monday morning, Beijing’s PM10 index was once as high as 2153, with visibility of less than one kilometer. The sandstorm has reportedly killed six people and left more than 80 missing in Inner Mongolia.
This Monday morning, Beijing issued a yellow warning for sandstorms, with visibility less than 1 kilometer in most areas. Beijing resident Li Hua, who left Home for the Capital International Airport at 9 a.m. that day, told Radio Free Asia that she saw a yellow sandstorm blanketing the road to the airport, with visibility of only a few hundred meters: “Visibility was pretty bad, a foggy, yellow feeling for a kilometer, and I was at the airport, ready to go to Guangzhou.”
Beijing media reported that as of 9:30 a.m., Beijing Capital Airport planned a total of 1,141 flights, 247 have been canceled, a cancellation rate of 21.65 percent; Daxing Airport planned 846 flights, 181 have been canceled, a cancellation rate of 21.39 percent.
Zhang Baikui, a retired civil servant from Beijing’s meteorological department, told the station that the dust storm appeared unusually fierce under the eight-level gusts: “The dust storm is still quite severe and will last for another day. The average person stays at home, but those who work can’t. Now pm10 reached up to 2000 (micrograms), this Time from Mongolia blowing dust storms.”
The China Meteorological Administration said in a morning post on the official microblogging site that this is the strongest intensity of sand and dust encountered in China in the past 10 years, and the range of dust storms is also the widest in the past 10 years. It is expected that the day, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin and other 12 provinces and cities will have significant sand and dust weather, and some areas have sand and dust storms. The Beijing Ecological and Environmental Monitoring Center informed that the concentration of suspended particulate PM10 exceeded 8,000 micrograms per cubic meter in six districts in the city center and suburbs.
Beijing residents say they haven’t seen anything this bad in years
Ms. Liu, a resident of Beijing’s Daxing district, told the station that she went out in the morning and saw yellow in front of her eyes: “It was yellow, and the ground was yellow, too, until 9:30 a.m. The dust storm was very strong. At five o’clock in the morning, the driver driving found that the vision is very poor, ten meters can not see things, foggy, feel spicy eyes. For decades, this has never been the case. I’ve never seen such a big dust storm in my 20 years in Beijing.”
Beijing resident Ms. Sun told the station this afternoon, “Beijing’s air pollution process is still very strong today, and it’s slightly better now, probably because a little wind has come up, and it’s said to be better in the afternoon.”
Many Beijingers commented on social media that they had not seen such a big sandstorm for nearly 10 years and now it is back with a vengeance, while others said that the “Action Plan to Win the Blue Sky Defense War” does not seem to have ended and will continue, and that there will be dust storms to fight in the future.
On February 25, Liu Bingjiang, director of the Department of Atmospheric Environment of China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, told reporters in Beijing that all regions and departments have thoroughly implemented the “Three-Year Action Plan to Win the Blue Sky Defense War” and fully completed the tasks of governance, exceeding the overall targets and quantitative indicators proposed in the 13th Five-Year Plan, and successfully wrapping up the Battle to Win the Blue Sky Defense War.
Sandstorm in Inner Mongolia caused serious casualties and missing herders
According to the comprehensive assessment of satellite images and ground monitoring information from the Desertification Monitoring Center of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration of China, the sand and dust weather mainly originated in Mongolia. This Monday morning (15), Mongolia’s State Emergency Department released a news release saying that from the evening of the 13th to 9:00 a.m. on the 15th, a total of 548 herders from 9 provinces were reported missing in the sandstorm throughout Mongolia, of which 467 have been found, and 5 herders from Central Gobi Province and 1 5-year-old child from Later Hangai Province unfortunately died. The emergency department is currently organizing personnel to continue the search for the remaining 81 missing herders.
In addition, according to local media reports, the impact of the mega sandstorm, some parts of western Mongolia on the 13th and 14th there were widespread power outages.
Chen Guoming, a resident of Beijing’s Fengtai district, told the station that some people also felt that in addition to the sandstorm, there was haze: “Just now I went out to get water and saw that the wind was blowing outside. The sand and dust did not decrease significantly either, and I can’t smell it, so it should be haze. This morning’s subway speed is slower than usual, may be the subway line affected by the wind, the speed slowed down.”
Earlier in the year, the media reported that earlier this year, Gansu Province, Dunhuang City, Yangguan area forestry for more than 10 years by a large area “shaved” type of logging, now only about 5,000 acres of protective forest left. Many netizens questioned whether the sandstorm could be linked to the massive deforestation of remote areas. More people are worried that this dust storm will become the “new normal” for Beijing.