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First Sandstorm of the Year Scours NW China

This year's first sandstorm hit Minqin County of northwest China's Gansu Province on Friday, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said in Beijing on Saturday.


The sandstorm started at 11:28 AM, with a minimum visibility of 600 meters, and died down an hour later, according to the CMA.


Minqin County, located between the Badain Jaran desert and the Tengger desert, has seen 94 percent of its area turn into desert as a result of years of erosion by wind and sand.


Deserts have advanced an average three to four meters into the remaining land each year. Last year, they advanced 6.19 meters, statistics from the local meteorological bureau showed.


The county suffered only 14 sandstorms last year, compared with around 26 on average. The most severe storm brought visibility down to 100 meters in April.


(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2007)

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