A major dust storm hit several areas in Irak turning all in orange

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Dozens people were hospitalized with serious respiratory problems – suffocation and breathing difficulties – in the center and the west of Iraq after a big dust storm occured on Sunday and a thick layer of orange dust settled across streets and vehicles, seeping into people’s homes in the capital Baghdad. The sky turned orange. Dense clouds of orange dust descended on some cities.The storms also dramatically reduced visibility levels. Flights have been interrupted at the airports of Baghdad and Najaf due to the dust storm.

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The phenomenon continued into Monday. Iraq’s meteorological office previously said the weather phenomenon is expected to become increasingly frequent “due to drought, desertification and declining rainfall”, because Iraq is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Environment Ministry official Issa al-Fayad warned on April that Iraq could face “272 days of dust” a year in coming decades. This also brings social and economic disaster in the country. Sandstorms occurred in recent years in other countries including Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Cyprus and China. Sand and dust storms usually occur when strong winds lift large amounts of sand and dust from bare, dry soils into the atmosphere. They are meteorological hazards in arid and semi-arid regions, as Northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia and China. The average lifetime of dust particles in the atmosphere ranges from a few hours for particles with a diameter larger than 10 μm, to more than 10 days for the sub-micrometric ones. There is not an immediate solution for such problem which needs increasing vegetation cover and creating forests. Of course, facial respiratory masks are needed and can help a little.