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Sandy weather disrupts flights in Lhasa

(Xinhua)

09:08, January 19, 2012

LHASA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- More than 4,300 passengers were stranded at Lhasa's airport Wednesday after sandy weather clouded the plateau city and reduced visibility, airport authorities said.

The sandy weather began on Tuesday, causing nine flights to be canceled and leaving at least 1,300 passengers stranded at Gonggar Airport near Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, said Yu Dasheng, an airport meteorological official.

He said the sandy weather worsened on Wednesday and 3,000 more passengers were left in limbo at the airport on Wednesday.

Airport authorities provided free food and lodging for the laid-over passengers and kept them posted with flight information, said Chen Jun, head of the airport operation center.

Chen said the weather began to clear Wednesday afternoon and 17 flights had taken off as of 6 p.m., diverting more than 2,000 passengers.

He said most of the stranded passengers would have boarded planes by Wednesday night.

But Lhasa's weather bureau said the sandy weather was likely to last till Saturday.

The unfavorable weather, a common occurrence in the Lhasa River Valley in winter, is a nuisance for air travelers, most of whom are eager to return home in time to reunite with family members ahead of the Chinese New Year's Eve on Sunday.

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