Massive sandstorm sweeps across Middle East

Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Israel and parts of Turkey affected by massive sandstorm sweeping across region

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

At least two people have died and hundreds have been left in need of hospital treatment as winds blowing in from the east push a huge sandstorm across the near-eastern Levant region.

Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine and Israel and parts of Turkey have been affected by the clouds of dust, disrupting flights due to the reduced visibility.

According to Reuters, flights to the Larnaca airport on the south-eastern coast of Cyprus were diverted to Paphos airport in the west of the island after visibility fell to 500 metres.

Regime jets in Syria were also grounded with less air strikes being recorded on Monday due to the storm, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

In Lebanon, two women died and 750 people were hospitalised after being overcome by breathing problems, the Lebanese Health Ministry stated.

Both deaths occurred in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley - one of the worst hit regions - where at least 130 people were hospitalised according to the Red Cross.

Ten people were also reportedly hospitalised in Cyprus.

Authorities in Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus have also warned their citizens to stay indoors and advised them not to go out without a face mask.

"We will continue to track and monitor developments. For sensitive populations, short term exposure to such dense clusters of particulates can cause a stroke, heart attacks, and even death,” an official from the Israeli Environment Ministry's Air Monitoring Center told the Y-Net news website.

The storm, made worse by the summer humidity in the region, is expected to last until Wednesday or Thursday.


TRTWorld and agencies