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: Historic environmental awareness is changing China

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

Historic environmental awareness is changing China

1 hour ago

In China, there has been an explosion of interest in the environment. There is every indication that extreme air pollution is driving new visions of sustainability and new formats of interaction between the ...

Research to aid Californian drought response

2 hours ago

The worsening drought in California has prompted US agencies to turn to Australian researchers to identify the most effective strategies Australian utilities and agencies used to survive the Millennium Drought.

Stronger action needed to transform the UK's energy system

7 hours ago

An ambitious policy package is essential for the UK to transform its energy system to achieve the deep reductions in carbon emissions required to avoid dangerous climate change, according to research led by UCL scientists. ...

Gimmicks and technology: California learns to save water

Jul 03, 2015

Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess—a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.