Hurricane-force sandstorm derails Chinese train, 3 dead

A desert sandstorm with hurricane-force wind gusts forced a train off the tracks in western China Wednesday, killing three people and injuring at least 34.

A sandstorm with hurricane-force winds derailed a train in China's far west Wednesday, killing at leastthree people and injuring another 34.

The 11-carriage train had just left a station in the Xinjiang region, when it was buffeted by fierce gusts and forced off the tracks, the Xinhua News Agency said.

"A strong sandstorm cracked window panes soon after the train left Turpan [station], and blew some of the cars off the rail when we were trying to plug up the windows," Xinhua quoted passenger Su Chuanyi as saying.

At least 100 rescue workers, doctors and police were at the scene of the derailment, which disrupted operations of the Southern Xinjiang Railway, the agency reported.

The train had been running between the capital city of Urumqi and Aksu, in the west.

In early spring and late winter, sandstorms fed by the deserts of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia blow toward Beijing and the east coast of China. Occasionally, the dust blows out across the Pacific, causing overcast skies in South Korea and drifting as faras the United States.