Severe sandstorms in Iraq disrupted air travel and reportedly caused breathing difficulties for dozens of people. On Sunday, the official Iraqi News Agency reported that flights were suspended at both the airport in the capital, Baghdad, and Najaf in the south, due to poor visibility. “Flights have been suspended until visibility improves,” the agency quoted Najaf airport departments as saying.
Pictures and videos spread online, which were said to show a large cloud of sand west of Baghdad. Five provinces in the country were affected by the storm, according to the Iraqi National News Agency, which published images of a capital shrouded in thick orange-red fog. Sand causes breathing difficulties for many people.
Alsumaria news website reported that at least 50 patients suffer from breathing difficulties and the risk of suffocation in Karbala hospitals in the south. Dozens of cases have been reported in medical circles.
Sandstorms are common in Iraq. Strong northwesterly winds blowing over the flood plains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the desert region, especially in the summer. Dust particles significantly degrade air quality.
India and Pakistan groan under the heat wave
In India and Pakistan, millions of residents are currently experiencing an early heat wave with temperatures sometimes exceeding 45°C. Meteorological Service Chief Mrutyunjai Mohapatra said northwestern and central India had the hottest April since weather records began 122 years ago.
Maximum temperatures exceeded 45 degrees, and Panda in the northern state of Pradesh was the hottest place in the country at 47.4 degrees. Mohapatra warned that the heat wave may intensify in the coming days, and temperatures may exceed 50 degrees Celsius in the north. May is usually the hottest month of the year.
There are also power supply issues in many states. The motive is the increased consumption of electricity, which led to a shortage of coal. Intermittent power outages and water shortages occurred in many areas, including Delhi.
Such heat in general is not unusual in southern Asia. But it is currently hitting the region much earlier than usual, as these high temperatures are often only reached in May and June.
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