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The most 'intense' sandstorm in a decade has turned Beijing's sky orange. See the eerie images.

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/15/2021 Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
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The worst sandstorm in a decade choked China's capital city of Beijing on Monday, raising health concerns, snarling traffic and forcing hundreds of flights to be canceled.

The storm caused an unprecedented spike in air pollution measurements – with pollution levels in some districts at 160 times the recommended limit, according to the according to the BBC

a highway filled with lots of traffic: Cars drive along an expressway amid a sandstorm during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021. The sandstorm brought a tinted haze to Beijing's skies and sent air quality indices soaring on Monday. © Mark Schiefelbein, AP Cars drive along an expressway amid a sandstorm during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021. The sandstorm brought a tinted haze to Beijing's skies and sent air quality indices soaring on Monday.

Schools had been told to cancel outdoor events, and those with respiratory diseases advised to stay indoors, AFP said.

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The National Meteorological Center said Monday’s storm had developed in the Gobi Desert in the Inner Mongolia Region.

“This is the most intense sandstorm weather our country has seen in 10 years, as well as it covering the broadest area,” the center said in a post on its website. 

Take a look at these stunning photos from the sandstorm:

a man standing in front of Forbidden City: A man walks near the entrance of the Forbidden City during a sandstorm in Beijing on March 15, 2021. © NOEL CELIS, AFP via Getty Images A man walks near the entrance of the Forbidden City during a sandstorm in Beijing on March 15, 2021. a large building in the background: Buildings are seen in the central business district of Beijing during a sandstorm on March 15, 2021. © LEO RAMIREZ, AFP via Getty Images Buildings are seen in the central business district of Beijing during a sandstorm on March 15, 2021. a group of people riding on the back of a motorcycle: People wear protective masks as they commute during the sandstorm in Beijing, China. The Chinese capital and the northern parts of the country was hit with a sandstorm on Monday, sending air quality indexes of PM 2.5 and PM 10 ratings into the thousands and canceling flights. © Kevin Frayer/Getty Images People wear protective masks as they commute during the sandstorm in Beijing, China. The Chinese capital and the northern parts of the country was hit with a sandstorm on Monday, sending air quality indexes of PM 2.5 and PM 10 ratings into the thousands and canceling flights. a person holding an umbrella: A woman wears a protective mask as she shields herself in heavy winds while commuting during a sandstorm on March 15, 2021, in Beijing, China. © Kevin Frayer/Getty Images A woman wears a protective mask as she shields herself in heavy winds while commuting during a sandstorm on March 15, 2021, in Beijing, China. a group of people standing in front of a building: People wear protective masks as they commute during a sandstorm on March 15, 2021 in Beijing, China. © Kevin Frayer/Getty Images People wear protective masks as they commute during a sandstorm on March 15, 2021 in Beijing, China. a bear that is sitting in the snow: A woman walks by office buildings amid a sandstorm during the morning rush hour in the central business district in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021. The sandstorm brought a tinted haze to Beijing's skies and sent air quality indices soaring on Monday. © Andy Wong, AP A woman walks by office buildings amid a sandstorm during the morning rush hour in the central business district in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021. The sandstorm brought a tinted haze to Beijing's skies and sent air quality indices soaring on Monday. a group of people posing for the camera: Commuters walk along a sidewalk amid a sandstorm during the morning rush hour in the central business district in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021. © Mark Schiefelbein, AP Commuters walk along a sidewalk amid a sandstorm during the morning rush hour in the central business district in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021. a street filled with traffic at night: People walk across a street as capital city is hit by polluted air and sandstorm in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021. © Andy Wong, AP People walk across a street as capital city is hit by polluted air and sandstorm in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The most 'intense' sandstorm in a decade has turned Beijing's sky orange. See the eerie images.

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