Terrifying videos of a massive sandstorm, hundreds of feet high, engulfing a city in China on Sunday have gone viral on the country’s social media platforms.
In the videos, a wall of sand as high as 300 feet can be seen swallowing whole several parts of the city of Dunhuang in China’s northwestern Gansu province. One of the videos shows high-rise buildings covered in sand as the thick wall of dust moved across the city.
Local reports said the sandstorm blew in from the Gobi Desert that is in close proximity to Dunhuang, also known as the Silk Road city. The government has issued a yellow warning for sandstorms in the area, according to local media reports.
Police shut major routes across the city and asked drivers and motorists to avoid traveling as visibility declined to less than 20 feet.
The South Morning China Post reported that the sandstorm tore through Dunhuang at about 3pm local time on Sunday.
A group of tourists who traveled to the city’s tourist attractions, including Mingsha mountain and Crescent Lake Nature Park, to enjoy the sunset were trapped by the sandstorm, reported the Daily Mail.
Tourists at the nature park huddled together as the massive storm blew away their possessions.
Mr Qin, a tour guide identified only by his family name, was quoted by reports as saying that the dust storm lasted only a short while.
One social media user called it a “rare summer sandstorm.”
Another user called the sandstorm “extraordinary” and said that it was a “good time to be indoors with windows closed.”
Others expressed concern as Dunhuang vanished in the sandstorm in one video.
Dunhuang is no stranger to harsh climate given its proximity to the Gobi desert, according to SCMP. Sandstorms typically occur from March to May, but are rare in summer.
The city is famous for its ancient Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, that were deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
Meanwhile, residents of Hotan in western China in June captured a similar dust storm sweeping through the city. Local Chinese media has warned of extreme weather incidents that have become increasingly common across the country.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies