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Pollution shrouds Tibetan capital, grounding flights

Published on Dec 20, 2013 2:30 PM

BEIJING (AFP) - 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 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 air quality.

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

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

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