At least five people died in Beirut and the Syrian capital of Damascus after an intense storm hit the Middle East Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
Clouds of dust also engulfed Israel, Jordan and Cyprus where aircraft were diverted to Pathos from Larnaca airport as visibility fell to 500 meters. The storm that has swept across the region has disrupted the airstrikes and fighting in neighbouring Syria, and reportedly killed eight people on Sept 8.
The storm also affected Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon, making the situation there even more dire. The unseasonal sandstorm hit Lebanon and Syria, reducing visibility and sending dozens to hospitals with breathing difficulties because of the fine dust. “We have had sandstorms before, but not of this intensity”. The same storm caused problems in Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Cyprus.
The sandstorm is partly due to a low-pressure system covering the entire region and winds blowing sand from the east, SANA said.
The health ministry said that the individuals suffering from suffocation as the result of the sandstorm that has hit Lebanon rose to 2,000 on Wednesday.
Damaged buildings are pictured during a sandstorm in the Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria.
Lucien Bourjeili, one of the protest organisers, said the bad weather may prevent some people from taking to the streets in a major protest planned for Wednesday.
The UK-based monitoring group went on to say that in the city of Mayadin in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, several hospitals were no longer receiving patients suffering from respiratory problems after running out of oxygen tanks.
SANA reported that the Ministry of the Interior’s traffic department issued a road conditions bulletin for drivers in Homs province but the visibility in Hama City was medium.
The effects of the storm also reached Cairo where the city was clouded a thick haze.