Dust storm chokes Beijing and northern China

Baku, May 4, AZERTAC

A dust storm is choking a large swathe of northern China including the capital, Beijing, in yet another air quality crisis to affect the country, according to BBC.

Official air quality readings have soared well above the recommended World Health Organization (WHO) limit.

Authorities are advising residents to avoid outdoor activity and for children and elderly people to remain indoors.

The dust is blowing in from neighboring Mongolia and China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Beijing's environmental agency said that as of 11:00 local time (03:00 GMT), the PM2.5 reading - which measures pollution in the form of small breathable particles - was 500 micrograms per cubic meter.

The WHO says the maximum safe level should be 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Authorities said Beijing would be affected until Thursday evening and visibility would be noticeably low throughout the day. Dozens of flights have been delayed or cancelled.

State media quoted city officials as saying that the dust storm began moving towards Beijing in the late afternoon on Wednesday, and enveloped the city overnight.

The dust storm has also affected, to varying degrees, a vast swathe of northern China stretching from the far west province of Xinjiang to eastern Heilongjiang, with Inner Mongolia experiencing particularly bad conditions.

Chinese people have, as usual, not hesitated to take to social media to vent their frustration.

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