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Sandstorm engulfs Chinese town

April 27, 2021

Meteorologists have warned people to stay indoors to avoid the sand lifted from the Gobi desert in the north.

An aerial photograph of sandstorm engulfing a town
Towns in Linze country, northern China, were hit hardestImage: AFP

A towering wall of sand hit northwestern China's Gansu province, covering factories and apartment blocks.

Recently released aerial images showed a billowing cloud of yellow dust smothering Gansu's Linze county on Sunday.

Low visibility resulted in multiple car accidents in the province, state media CCTV reported.

Meteorologists warned people to stay indoors and keep windows shut.

Where does the sand come from?

China suffers from enormous sandstorms each spring when sand is lifted from the Gobi desert in the north of the country and Mongolia. It is then dumped onto cities as far away as Shandong on the eastern coast and elsewhere across Asia.

an aerial photo shows a sandstorm engulfing a village in Linze county
The sand is lifted from the Gobi desert in the northImage: AFP

The sandstorms have been made worse by desertification — the Gobi desert increases in size each year, transforming farmland into desert.

In March, the worst sandstorm in a decade hit China's capital, Beijing, pushing air pollution levels off the charts and forcing airlines to ground hundreds of flights.

China's plan to stop sandstorms

China is planting a natural barrier of trees, also known as the "Great Green Wall," in stripped forest areas in a bid to curb the sandstorms.

Last year, Beijing said it expected fewer and weaker sandstorms to hit northern China due to the reforestation efforts.

Meanwhile, meteorologists said more storms can be expected across northern China on Tuesday.

kmm/nm (AFP contributed to this report)