Beijing shrouded in hazardous sandstorm

Beijing woke on Sunday morning (March 28) shrouded in thick dust carrying extremely high levels of hazardous particles, as a second sandstorm in two weeks hit the city due to winds from drought-hit Mongolia and northwestern China.

Visibility in the city was reduced and pedestrians were forced to cover their eyes as gusts of dust swept through the streets.

The tarmac at Beijing International Airport was a blur as the city's official air quality index reached a maximum level of 500 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 (March 26) and said the city might face more sandstorms in April due to the unfavorable weather this year.