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Sandy weather strands 600 at Lhasa airport

(Xinhua)

08:58, February 09, 2012

Photo taken on Feb. 8, 2012 shows the Potala Palace amid blowing dust and sand in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Lhasa witnessed dusty weather on Wednesday, the most serious one since the beginning of this year. Such weather would last till Feb. 9, according to local meteorological station. (Xinhua/Wen Tao)

LHASA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Severe sandy weather Wednesday has left 601 passengers stranded at the airport in Lhasa, capital city of southwest Tibet autonomous region, said air authorities.

Fifteen out of 22 flights scheduled to arrive or leave Gonggar Airport Wednesday were canceled as dust shrouded the plateau city and greatly reduced visibility, according to a spokesman with the regional civil aviation management bureau.

Lhasa experienced the worst sandy weather to date this year on the day, said Pan Duo, deputy director of the city's weather station. "The highest wind speed reached 13 meters per second."

The unfavorable weather is expected to last through Thursday and likely to ease after, he said.

Sandy 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 and the Tibetan New Year.

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