Sand Storms Reappear in the Hexi Corridor and the Minqin Oasis Is On the Verge of Death

[] Comprehensive
Chinese media reported that, from the morning of May 9, 2007 to the
morning of May 10, a regional sand storm occured in the Hexi Corridor
region in Gansu Province. The sand storm traveled through the Dunhuang,
Anxi, Zhangye, Jinchang and Minqin areas, among which Dunhuang,
Jinchang and Minqin suffered severe sand storms with visibility limited
to 400m, 300m and 400m, respectively. Besides the sand storms in those
areas, sand blowing occurred in Gaotai, Linze, Shandan, Minle,
Yongchang, Wuwei, Jiuquan and Gaolan and dust occurred ibbn Jinta,
Subei and Wuqiaoling.

According to the report, the severe sand storm in Minqin County
occurred at 17:49 on May 9. The minimum visibility in a severe sand
storm is 200m and the Extreme Instantaneous Wind Speed is 18.6m/s,
equal to gust 8 force. This was the seventh sand storm in Minqin County
this year. The frequent sand storms have polluted the air, worsened the
ecology, and brought huge loss to the agriculture of Minqin.

The Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabao, has said, "Minqin is not to
become 'the second Luobupo.'" But the ecology in Minqin County has
continued to worsen. Statistics show that, between 1998 and 2003, the
wind erosion and desert area in the monitored arable land has increased
11035.49 hectares, the desertification is gradually growing from light
to severe and extremely severe, and the frequency of sand storms is
increasing. On Jan. 26, 2007, a sudden sand storm in Minqin became the
first sand storm in the nation this year, making this year one of those
having the earliest sand storm occurrence. The underground water level
continues to drop. Among the 18 townships in Minqin County, the
underground water level in 13 of them has dropped 21m to 25m, and has
reached a degree that desert plants' natural survival need of water
cannot be met if no watering is provided or it doesn't rain normally.

The report shows that the Badanjilin and the Tenggeli deserts have
merged at Qingtu Lake in Minqin County. The lake no longer exists and
has turned to dunes, on top of which shells can be faintly seen. The
two deserts have gradually invaded the Minqin oasis from west, north
and east, and have almost encircled it, leaving only a 1000m wide and
less than 10000m long green path connecting with Wuwei. Minqin has
almost become an island in the desert, and has become one of the four
sources of sand storms in China.  

Translated from: