Middle East

Middle East dust storm puts dozens in hospital

A man rides a bicycle through a sandstorm in Homs, Syria September 7, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Roads were barely visible in the Syrian city of Homs

A large dust storm has hit western parts of the Middle East, putting dozens of people in hospital and leading to public health warnings.

After hitting parts of Syria on Monday, the dust spread to larger areas of the country on Tuesday morning.

Parts of Lebanon, Israel, Turkey and Cyprus were also affected. Lebanon's state news agency said two people died - one an elderly man found on a roof.

Syrian media said the weather stopped fighting in Hama and Idlib provinces.

The pro-government al-Watan newspaper said (in Arabic) that government helicopters were prevented from flying because of the dust.

The poor weather was down partly to a low-pressure system over the entire region and sand blowing in from the east, Syria's state news agency, Sana, said (in Arabic).

Poor visibility may last until the end of the week, it added.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe dust storm is covering much of the Middle East, as Louise Lear explains
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Residents of Homs wore masks to try to combat the dust
Image copyright AP
Image caption The Lebanese capital Beirut was badly affected on Tuesday morning
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The storm also hit Syrian refugee camps near the Lebanese city of Baalbek
Image copyright AP
Image caption One beach-goer in Israel braved the sandstorm

Elsewhere in the region:

  • at least 80 people were taken to hospital with respiratory problems in Lebanon, the state news agency said
  • Israel's environment ministry warned the elderly, young and pregnant to stay indoors, as well as those with heart or breathing problems
  • most of Israel is expected to suffer poor air conditions on Tuesday, according to the country's media
  • at least 10 people have been taken to hospital in Cyprus with breathing difficulties.

BBC correspondents across the Middle East have also been posting images of the sandstorm on social media.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter