A wall of sand over 100 meters (300 feet) high swallowed a city on the fringes of the Gobi desert in northwestern China, in scenes reminiscent of a disaster film.
Dunhuang, a tourist draw with a colorful history as a Silk Road outpost, momentarily disappeared in the dust clouds as the storm hit on Sunday.
A resident surnamed Zhang told local media Jimu News that the sandstorm came abruptly and swept through the city in five or six minutes.
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“I couldn’t see the Sun,” he said, adding that the city in Gansu province had not experienced such a sandstorm in several years.
“At first I was enveloped in the sandstorm’s yellow dust, then it turned red and finally black.”
A giant wall of sand caught on camera seemingly swallowing large buildings and entire roads. pic.twitter.com/YrjiSdg2aW
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Dunhuang is home to several major tourist attractions including the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site with ancient Buddhist carvings and striking desert landforms.
Sandstorms are common in the region each spring but rare in the summer, according to state-run news agency China News Service.