Beijing: Sand storms across China have affected over 6.7 million people and damaged at least 135 million hectares of land causing loss of more than CNY 550 million (USD 80 million), a media report said on Monday.
The gale in Xinjiang region on Sunday claimed three lives while one person was reported missing. With wind speed reaching more than 36 metres per second, the gale caused serious damage to crops and vineries and damaged more than 14,000 vegetable greenhouses, which are major source of income for Xinjiang residents, China Daily Monday quoted local authorities as saying.
A sandstorm also hampered rescue and relief work in quake-hit Yushu in Qinghai province on Sunday. Hundreds of rescuers were stranded at Qinghai`s Xining airport following sandstorms and heavy snow in Yushu.
All six daily flights from Xining to Yushu were delayed, a spokesperson with Xining`s Caojiabao Airport was quoted as saying.
A sandstorm shrouded the airport late Sunday, with the terminal smelling of sand and chairs were covered by yellow soil.
The sandstorm also engulfed three other regions in north China - Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Gansu Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Gansu was blanketed in the worst sandstorm of the last nine years since Saturday with visibility in Wuwei city and Jiuquan city being reduced to zero Saturday night, the Lanzhou meteorological observatory said.
"Before the sandstorm hit, the weather was fine and it was not even sunset yet, but next thing you know, a strong wind bringing heavy sand blew at me, like a wall of sand, and the sky suddenly became dark," a Minqin resident was quoted as saying.
Li Ying from Inner Mongolia was terrified while recalling the sandstorm. "The wind was so loud that it woke me up on Saturday night and I couldn`t fall sleep again. After I got up and looked outside in the morning, I was astonished to see the whole neighbourhood covered with yellow grit."
In Gansu, over 1.42 million people were affected, the provincial civil affairs department said.
At least 547 houses collapsed and 812 houses were partially damaged during the storm but there was no report of loss of human life.
The strong wind also damaged 85 percent of the 26.67 hectares of vineyard in Turpan prefecture in Xinjiang, a place famous for its grapes and melons.