Latest sandstorm brings Iraq to standstill

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Another sandstorm that descended Monday on Iraq sent at least 2,000 people to hospital with breathing problems and led to the closure of airports, schools and public offices across the country.

It is the eighth duststorm since mid-April to hit Iraq, which has been battered by soil degradation, intense droughts and low rainfall linked to climate change.

The last one earlier this month led to the death of one person while 5,000 others had to be hospitalised for respiratory problems. On Monday a thick cloud of dust enveloped the capital Baghdad in an orange glow and blanketed many other cities including the Shiite shrine city of Najaf to the south, and Sulaimaniyah, in the northern Kurdish autonomous region, AFP correspondents said.

Yellow and orange sand covered building roofs, cars and even crept into homes. Authorities in seven of Iraq’s 18 provinces, including Baghdad, ordered government offices to shut.—AFP

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