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Sandstorm season under way in China

Sandstorm season under way in China
An unusual traffic jam developed on Tiananmen Square as delegates and journalists departed the square after the opening session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) being held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 5, 2011. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

BEIJING, March 19 (UPI) -- China's first big sandstorm of the spring had government officials urging residents of Beijing to keep their windows and doors closed until it passed.

Blowing sand and dust raised the particulate-matter levels in the capital and many other parts of China Saturday.

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"Generally speaking, about 80 percent of the country's sandstorms happen in spring, especially from March to May. We are entering the sandstorm season," said Li Xiaoquan of the China Meteorological Administration.

Li told the state-run Xinhua news agency the weekend storm covered much of northern and northwestern China and would probably last through Monday.

Particulate levels in Beijing averaged about 500 milligrams per cubic meter and topped 800 milligrams in the Daxing and Changping districts.

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