China's Vanishing City: After Flood and Typhoon, 'Worst' Sandstorm Batters Country

It seems as if China is having no escape from floods, typhoons and sandstorms. Dramatic visuals circulated on social media as a mega sandstorm engulfed parts of China's ancient city Dunhuang on July 25. Footage shows high rise buildings disappearing beneath the cloud of dust.

An Enormous Dark Cloud Swallowed High Rise Buildings

Dunhuang is a city in China's northwestern Gansu Province, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. The gigantic sandstorm engulfed the expressway in a few minutes, turning the sky yellow and reduced the visibility to less than five meters, according to state media.

Clouds of dust towered at least 100 metres above the ground, with visibility in parts of the ancient Silk Road city of Dunhuang reduced to just 5 metres, South China Morning Post reports.

The viral videos of the incident show a high wall of sand slowly hitting buildings and highways. The city's visibility remained reduced, with not many structures and buildings visible at the time. The apocalyptic scene was filmed by a resident who shared the scary clip on Twitter.

Citizens Have to Suffer with Respiratory Issues

The dusty winds, which swept the city streets, forced pedestrians to cover their eyes. The thick dust also carried hazardous particles, giving a hard time to several citizens, especially elderly and patients with respiratory issues.

The Sandstorm Led to Dangerous Driving Conditions

More than 400 flights were cancelled. Local traffic police imposed traffic control and directed stranded vehicles to leave the expressway. Police were forced to shut down major roads and ask motorists to wait out the storm in service areas as visibility plummeted to less than 20 feet, reported the Daily Mail.

No injuries have been reported in connection to the wild weather event, but air quality remains low across affected areas.

Sand Storm
Sandstorm Twitter

Extreme Weather in China Due to Human Activities and Deforestation

The Silk Road city is home to the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Reports say that Dunhuang is known for its harsh climate and living conditions. In June, residents of Hotan, a city in western China, captured scenes similar to those seen in Dunhuang on Sunday.

Earlier in March, Beijing was cloaked in thick yellow smog with pollution levels surging off the charts as the worst sandstorm in a decade descended from the Gobi desert. Residents used goggles, masks and hairnets to protect themselves from the choking dust and sand. Landmarks such as the Forbidden City was partly obscured behind an apocalyptic-looking haze.

Netizens Stunned by this Rare Summer Sandstorm

As the footage went viral, many viewers were thrilled by the speed at which the city became smothered. Social media users not only discussed about the climate change, but also emphasized on Beijing's air quality index (AQI). Few netizens compared the incident with One Twitter user wrote, "Is the higher power doing this to China? Flood, typhoon, sandstorm. What's next? I pray for the safety of people." Another wrote, "Wasn't this a scene from The Mummy? Should we be worried?"