Pollution shrouds Tibetan capital, grounding flights

Dec 20, 2013
File photo of Tibetans passing the Potala Palace in the capital Lhasa, where pollution levels have reached new heights, shrouding the city in dust and halting flights

China's pollution reached new heights on Friday, as the Tibetan capital of Lhasa was shrouded in a cloud of dust that halted flights and rendered one of its most-recognisable landmarks nearly invisible.

Lhasa, which at 3,700 metres (12,000 feet) above sea level is one of the highest cities on the world, was named by China's Ministry of Environmental Protection last month as one of 10 cities with the country's best .

But on Friday, the picturesque capital of the Tibetan region was enveloped in a thick cloud of pollution that the Hong Kong-based ifeng.com news website said was caused by that had blown in from north of the Tibetan Plateau.

Visibility in some areas was reduced to five kilometres (three miles), flights were grounded, and the city's air quality index exceeded 500, the highest level, the report said.

Photos posted online by ifeng.com showed the world-famous Potala Palace, a sprawling Buddhist complex and UNESCO World Heritage site that previously served as the winter palace of the Dalai Lama, nearly invisible from a few kilometres away.

The images of in the remote tourist destination, as opposed to in the industrial cities of northeast China, took users of the country's popular social networks by surprise.

"Even Lhasa has floating dust," wrote one. "Heaven on Earth is gone."

"It proves again that Lhasa is the sacred inseparable territory of China," quipped another, in a nod to the tensions between Beijing and Tibetans seeking greater autonomy for the region.

Explore further: Heavy air pollution hits Shanghai, delaying flights

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dangerous pollution levels blight Chinese city

Oct 22, 2013

Thick smog enveloped a major Chinese city for a third day Tuesday, with schools and a regional airport shut and poor visibility forcing ground transport to a halt in places.

Recommended for you

Madagascar to drain crude from stricken tanker

12 hours ago

Madagascar will during the weekend pump crude from a tanker that ran aground a week ago off its picturesque northern coast to prevent a spill, maritime authorities said Thursday.

Study links California drought to global warming

14 hours ago

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

15 hours ago

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Google+ boss leaving the company

The executive credited with bringing the Google+ social network to life is leaving the Internet colossus after playing a key role there for nearly eight years.