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Chinese yellow dust storm hits Korean peninsula

Written by: Staff
|

SEOUL, Apr 18 (Reuters) A sand storm that covered homes and streets in the Chinese capital with a brownish-yellow dust has clogged the air over the Korean peninsula, weather officials said today.

The dust storm was weak over parts of central and northern South Korea, including the capital Seoul, the South's Meteorological Administration said, adding that it was much more severe in North Korea.

South Korean authorities are yet to issue a health warning.

Northern China continued to suffer from its worst pollution in years today after 300,000 tonnes of sand were dumped on Beijing.

Dusty conditions were likely to continue in many parts of northern China in the coming few days, the official China Daily said, citing a leading meteorologist.

On April 8, South Korea suffered its worst ''yellow dust'' storm in four years, a choking pall of sand mixed with toxic chemicals.

The dust, which originates in the Gobi Desert region of China, picks up heavy metals and carcinogens such as dioxin as it passes over China's industrial regions, before hitting the Korean peninsula and Japan, meteorologists say.

The state-sponsored Korea Environment Institute said the dust kills up to 165 South Koreans a year, mostly the elderly or those with respiratory ailments, and makes as many as 1.8 million ill.

The United Nations Environment Programme has said the problem is plaguing Northeast Asia nearly five times as often as it did in the 1950s and is worsening with growing desertification.

REUTERS SHB VC1348

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