Sandstorm chokes Mideast for second day


A massive sandstorm engulfed the Middle East for a second day Tuesday, disrupting air travel and air strikes, forcing residents inside and prompting health warnings across the sweltering region.

At least eight deaths have been attributed to the unseasonal storm and hundreds of people have been hospitalized with breathing problems, according to media reports. The storm swept in from the east on Monday and by Tuesday had blanketed Israel, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Iraq and parts of Turkey and Cyprus.

The skies over Syria were so dusty that the government suspended air attacks on rebels.

The storm, which reportedly originated in Saudi Arabia, was big enough to be seen from space. It was expected to linger into Wednesday and begin dissipating Thursday, forecasters said.

A view from space of the giant sandstorm that engulfed

“We have had sandstorms before, but not of this intensity,” a Cypriot meterological official told Reuters. “It’s very rare for this time of year too and it’s covering the entire region.”

The storm exacerbated already miserable weather resulting from high heat and humidity.

Israel’s Environment Ministry warned “sensitive populations” that short-term exposure to the high concentrations of breathable particles could cause stroke, heart attacks and even death.

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