Sandstorms 'no hurdle to Olympics'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 April, 2006, 12:00am

Forestry officials yesterday promised that Beijing would enjoy a 'green' Olympics in 2008, despite northern China enduring at least 10 sandstorms already this year.

Liu Tuo , director of the State Forestry Administration's Sand Prevention and Treatment Office, said he was sure environmental conditions would improve.

'First of all, the Olympics will be held in August, so it will avoid the peak sandstorm season between March and May,' Mr Liu said. 'And we have enough reason to believe we can target a standard of 'good' air quality in 2008 because the vegetation will have recovered to an ideal standard after several years of work on sandstorm prevention and environmental protection.'

With meteorologists forecasting another sandstorm today, Mr Liu said the extraordinary conditions this year were caused by global warming and low rainfall.

Yang Weixi , the office's chief engineer, said the sandstorm that hit Beijing on Monday was the most destructive this year.

'It killed two people in the Xinjiang city of Turpan and caused substantial economic losses,' he said.

Mr Yang said the dust and sandstorms in Beijing not only came from the deserts of Inner Mongolia and Western Siberia, but also from construction and industrial sites around the capital.

Mr Liu said the sandstorms had affected air quality in Japan, South Korea and some parts of the US.