Lebanon – The Lebanese Health Ministry said the worst sandstorm in years swept across northern and eastern Lebanon on Tuesday, leaving at least two dead and sending some 750 people to hospital with breathing difficulties.
It said that in Lebanon, the storm also affected other parts of the Levant region, including Syria, Jordan and Israel.
The meteorological department has described the storm as ” unprecedented” in Lebanon’s modern history and the northern Lebanese district of Akkar, was hit the hardest.
Governments across the region warned the ill and the elderly, as well as pregnant women, to avoid strenuous activities.
They said the dust, which caused heavy smog to engulf cities, could cause damage to lungs and impair breathing.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Syria, the sandstorm affected the area of al-Mayadeen in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.
Report said hospitals had stopped receiving patients because of the high number of people suffering from breathing problems.
Rami Abdel-Rahman, Head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the hospital had ran out of oxygen cylinders.
He further said that the storm had also forced the stoppage of airstrikes in central and northern Syria.
Eitan Maza, an Air Quality Forecaster at the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, said the sandstorm originated from a low depression in north-eastern Syria, carrying sand from the desert across the region.
He said in Israel, it was the highest concentration of dust measured in the month of September in the last 15 years.
The Israeli Environment Ministry warned of the health repercussions of the storm, stretching from northern Israel, Galilee, to central areas, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The ministry warned against outdoor activities for children at schools and said those with health conditions should refrain from physical exertion.
The ministry also issued warnings to drivers to be cautious in order to avoid accidents, as officials said visibility was significantly reduced. (dpa/NAN)