WATCH: Powerful sandstorm engulfs northwest Chinese town

A strong sandstorm hit Aral City, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Thursday evening and disrupted rush-hour traffic.

Shortly before 20:00, the sandstorm suddenly shrouded the city, reducing visibility to less than 50 meters and temperatures by three to five degrees centigrade.

People outdoors, including students on their way home, suffered from the airborne sand.

“I’ve just been off duty. When I went into the street, I saw the coming sandstorm. In less than two minutes, the sandstorm came over, very very quickly,” said Shan, a local resident.

“It came very suddenly. We’ve just finished work and saw the Sun minutes ago. Then, the sandstorm came and covered me with sand. The sandstorm caught us unprepared. I have no helmet, no mouth mask. All I have is this pair of glasses,” said Yin, another local resident.

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The sandstorm will last for three days and gradually weaken, according to the city’s meteorological department.