The Potala Palace in Lhasa. Credit: CFP
Via the South China Morning Post: Choking, toxic smog spreads across the nation to inland and coastal cities. Click through for a video clip and photos that will make your eyes water. Excerpt:
The mainland's notorious smog has spread from major city clusters around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to inland cities in central and western provinces and in the country's north.
Several western cities including tourist hot spots Lhasa and Xian have, unusually, been shrouded in smog or dust for the last two days, while three cities in coastal Shandong province were also blanketed by smog yesterday as pollution readings went off the scale.
"This is alarming. This shows China's unsustainable growth mode is taking its toll across the whole country," said Li Bo , a senior adviser at Friends of Nature, a mainland environmental organisation.
Sandstorms hit Lhasa, 3,700 metres above sea level, on Thursday and yesterday, reducing visibility in some areas to less than five kilometres and disrupting flights at the city's Gonga airport.
Xinhua said weather forecasters expected the sandstorm would last till the weekend. It said a sharp drop in temperature, lower atmospheric pressure and accumulated airborne particles were mainly to blame. Air quality readings were off the scale on both days, with larger PM10 particles - those up to 10 microns in diameter - a major problem.
As the Potala Palace and nearby snow-covered mountains disappeared into the dusty haze, some travellers were shocked that the city with the cleanest air on the mainland was affected.
"Even Lhasa, the sacred city known for its crystal clear sky, succumbs to haze now. Are we losing the last piece of 'pure land'?" asked a weibo user.
As I post this, the Air Quality Index for major Chinese cities shows almost uniformly "unhealthy " readings, with Beijing a "moderate."