Beijing chokes in dust storm

The China Meteorological Administration announced a yellow alert on Monday (March 15) morning, saying sandstorms had spread from Inner Mongolia into the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi and Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.

Beijing's official air quality index reached a maximum level of 500, with floating particles known as PM10 rising beyond 8,000 micrograms per cubic meter in some districts, according to the city's environmental monitoring center.

The World Health Organization recommends average daily PM 10 concentrations of no more than 50 micrograms.