April 18, 2006

Chinese yellow dust storm hits Korean peninsula

SEOUL (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 on Tuesday.

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 on Tuesday after 300,000 tonnes of sand were dumped on

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

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