Iraq yet again hit by dust storm

sandstorm iraq
A photograph taken on May 1, 2020 shows the 17 Ramadan mosque in the Iraqi capital Baghdad during a severe sandstorm. Flights were grounded due to poor visibility at airports serving the capital Baghdad and the Shiite holy city of Najaf. The phenomenon is expected to continue into tomorrow, according to the weather service. (Photo: AFP)
Baghdad — Iraq on Sunday was yet again covered in a thick sheet of orange as it suffered the latest in a series of dust storms that have become increasingly common.اضافة اعلان

Dozens were hospitalized with respiratory problems in the center and the west of the country.

A thick layer of orange dust settled across streets and vehicles, seeping into people's homes in the capital Baghdad.

Flights were grounded due to poor visibility at airports serving Baghdad and the Shiite holy city of Najaf. According to the weather service, the phenomenon is expected to continue into Monday.

"Flights have been interrupted at the airports of Baghdad and Najaf due to the dust storm," the spokesman for the civil aviation authority, Jihad al-Diwan, told AFP.

Visibility was cited at less than 500 meters (550 yards), with flights expected to resume once the weather improves.

Hospitals in Najaf received 63 people suffering from respiratory problems due to the storm, a health official said, adding that the majority had left after receiving appropriate treatment.

Another 30 hospitalizations were reported in the mostly-desert province of Anbar in the west of the country.

Iraq was hammered by a series of such storms in April, grounding flights in Baghdad, Najaf and Arbil and leaving dozens hospitalized.

Amer al-Jabri, of Iraq's meteorological office, previously told AFP that the weather phenomenon is expected to become increasingly frequent "due to drought, desertification and declining rainfall".

Iraq is particularly vulnerable to climate change, having already witnessed record low rainfall and high temperatures in recent years.

Experts have said these factors threaten social and economic disaster to the war-scarred country.

In November, the World Bank warned that Iraq could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050 due to climate change.

According to the state news agency INA, in early April, environment ministry official Issa al-Fayad had warned that Iraq could face "272 days of dust" a year in coming decades.

The ministry said the weather phenomenon could be addressed by "increasing vegetation cover and creating forests that act as windbreaks".

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