People were told to stay home and flights were disrupted in parts of the Middle East after the latter swept across the region in a series of unusual sandstorms.
The storms have sent thousands of people to the hospital in recent weeks in the Middle East, with at least one death in Iraq and three in Syria.
The nearly back-to-back sandstorms have also covered parts of Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Experts and officials blame climate change and poor government regulations.
Sandstorms are stimulated by seasonal winds and are typical in late spring and summer.
This year, however, they have taken place in Iraq almost every week since March.
From the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh to the Iranian capital Tehran, bright orange skies and a thick cloud of grit signaled another stormy day in the Middle East on Monday.
Iraqi authorities have declared the day a national holiday, urging government workers and residents to stay home in anticipation of the tenth storm that has hit the country in the past two months.
The Ministry of Public Health stored oxygen buses in facilities in hard-hit areas, according to a statement.
“It is a widespread problem, but each country has a different degree of vulnerability and weakness,” said Jaafar Jotheri, a geologist at Al-Qadisiyah University in Baghdad.
In Syria, medical departments were alerted when the sandstorm hit the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which borders Iraq, the Syrian state TV said.
Earlier this month, a similar storm in the region left at least three people dead and hundreds were hospitalized with breathing problems.
Dr Bashar Shouaybi, head of the Ministry of Health’s office in Deir el-Zour, told State TV that hospitals were being prepared and ambulances were on standby.
He said they have received an additional 850 oxygen tanks and medications needed to deal with patients who have asthma.
For the second time this month, Kuwait International Airport on Monday suspended all flights due to the dust.
Video showed for the most part empty streets with poor visibility.
The Saudi Arabian Meteorological Association reports that visibility would drop to zero this week on the roads in the capital Riyadh.
Officials warned drivers to go slow.
Emergency rooms in the city were flooded with 1,285 patients this month complaining they could not breathe properly.
Iran closed schools and government offices in the capital, Tehran, last week due to a sandstorm that swept the country.
It hit hardest in the southwestern desert region of the nation of Khuzestan, where more than 800 people sought treatment for breathing.
Dozens of flights from western Iran were canceled or delayed.
The blame for the dust storms and heavy air pollution has built up, with a prominent environmental expert telling the local media that climate change, drought and mismanagement of water resources are responsible for the increase in sandstorms.
Iran has drained its wetlands for agriculture – a common practice known for producing dust in the region.
Alireza Shariat, the head of an association of Iranian water engineers, told Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency last month that he expected large-scale dust storms to become an “annual spring phenomenon” in a way Iran has never seen before. .
In Iraq, desertification intensified by record-low rainfall contributes to the intensity of storms, Mr Jotheri said. In a low-lying country with many desert regions, the impact is almost double, he said.
He added: “Through 17 years of water mismanagement and urbanization, Iraq has lost more than two-thirds of its green coverage,” he said. “That is why Iraqis are complaining more than their neighbors about the sandstorms in their territories.”
Flights disrupted and people told to stay home as sandstorm hovers over Middle East | World news
Source link Flights disrupted and people told to stay home as sandstorm hovers over Middle East | World news