Beijing, the capital of China was severely hit by the worst sandstorm of the decade on Monday, said the weather bureau. The Capital was covered in thick dust and the sky was covered by an apocalyptic-looking orange haze.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or grounded and a lot of people gone missing. Schools had been told to cancel outdoor events, and those with respiratory diseases advised to stay indoors. The pollution level in some districts spiked to 160 times the recommended limit. City residents used goggles, masks and hairnets to protect themselves from the choking dust and sand.
The sand is being brought in by strong winds from Mongolia where severe sandstorms have reportedly caused six deaths and left dozens missing.
"It looks like the end of the world," Beijing resident Flora Zou told the Reuters news agency. "In this kind of weather I really, really don't want to be outside," she said.
According to news wire AFP quoting the Global Times, the PM 10 pollution in six central districts reached "over 8,100 micrograms per cubic metre" on Monday. The WHO considers levels between 0-54 as "good" and 55-154" as "moderate" levels of PM 10.