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Skies over China turn yellow amid most severe sandstorm in a decade

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Skies over China turn yellow amid most severe sandstorm in a decade
A bicyclist passes a temple Monday during a severe sandstorm in Beijing, China. In some areas around the city, the storm reduced visibility to less than 500 yards. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

March 15 (UPI) -- The skies over northern China turned orange and yellow on Monday due to the area's most severe sandstorm in a decade, forecasters said.

The storm moved across a dozen provinces in northern China and changed the color of the skies to yellow and orange.

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China's National Meteorological Center said the yellow dust spread across Xinjiang, Gansu, Inner Mongolia and Hebei.

Several deaths have been attributed to the storm and dozens of people were reported missing, according to Mongolia's National Emergency Management Agency.

The storm severely reduced visibility in the capital, Beijing, on Monday. Forecasters said the dust was expected to gradually dissipate and clear later this week, due to an incoming storm system.

The city measured a maximum of 655 micrograms per cubic meter in the air. The World Health Organization considers anything over 25 micrograms to be unsafe. The microscopic particulate matter can get lodged in the lungs and pass into organs and the bloodstream.

Authorities urged residents to stay indoors during the sandstorm, if possible. Beijing education officials encouraged schools to cancel outdoor activities.

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