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Sandstorm hits Xinjiang, will likely continue

(Xinhua)

09:17, March 21, 2012

A man walks in floating dust in Turpan City, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, March 20, 2012. The city was hit by floating dust and strong gale on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Jiang Xiaoming)

BEIJING, March 20 (Xinhua) -- China's top meteorological authority said Tuesday that a sandstorm has hit northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Gansu province amid strong gales.

Visibility has decreased to less than 500 meters in some areas due to the sandstorm, the first to occur in China this year, according to the National Meteorological Center (NMC).

The NMC forecast that the strong winds battering the region will move east over the next two days, bringing sand and dust to eastern Xinjiang, as well some areas in Gansu, Qinghai and Inner Mongolia.

Temperatures in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi dropped by nearly 11 degrees Celsius on Tuesday due to a cold front and strong winds.

The strong gales also halted 24 trains on two railways on Monday, according to the provincial railway authority.

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