Thu, April 23, 2009
China > Mainland

Sandstorm hits NW China, blankets tourist city

2009-04-23 11:23:46 GMT2009-04-23 19:23:46 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

A couple pose for wedding photos in the sandstorm on a bridge in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, April 23, 2009. A sandstorm hit Lanzhou Thursday. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao)

A pedestrian covers his nose in the sandstorm on a bridge in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, April 23, 2009. A sandstorm hit Lanzhou Thursday. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao)

Some foreign tourists walk on a bridge in the sandstorm in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, April 23, 2009. A sandstorm hit Lanzhou Thursday. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao)

LANZHOU, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Sandstorms hit northwest China's Gansu Province Thursday and delayed flights from the world's famous tourist city of Dunhuang, local officials said.

The first sandstorm in northwest China this Spring landed in Gansu in the early morning, reducing the visibility to less than 500 meters, said Xu Dongbei, chief forecaster of the observatory station of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu.

Dunhuang, famous for Buddhist grottoes, has been covered in sandstorm since 2:30 a.m. Maximum wind speeds reached 24.3 meters per second. The visibility decreased to 20 meters. Two flights were delayed, officials said.

Residents on the street had to cover mouths and noses tightly. Some wore a plastic box on their heads to guard against the sand.

Sandstorms were continuing as of 6 p.m. but they were getting weaker, Xu said.

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