A Middle East sandstorm that impacted at least nine countries on Tuesday and Wednesday has led to the deaths of 12 people in Lebanon and Syria with another 2,000 cases of asphyxiation or shortness of breath reported.
Al Jazeera reported that the sandstorm
shrouded the northern and eastern parts of Lebanon for two consecutive days. Tents at a Syrian refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley village of Taalabaya were covered in dust, photos from the scene show.
The Weather Channel reported that NASA satellite images
show the sandstorm slamming Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, far southern Turkey, northwest Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. MENA, Egypt's state-run news agency, reported that the country shut down four ports in the Suez Canal because visibility dropped to less than a mile.
Israeli officials canceled some domestic flights because of low visibility for a second consecutive day Wednesday, the Times of Israel reported
. Israeli airlines IsraAir and Arkia both stated that they would use buses to get travelers to Eilat Wednesday while the flights were postponed.
Temperatures in Israel also reached 100 degrees in various parts of the country, including Jerusalem, giving the country a double weather hit, noted the Times of Israel. Hundreds were treated for respiratory problems and other ailments related to the weather on Tuesday, wrote the Times.
Syria's state-run news agency SANA reported that more than 3,580 cases of asphyxia, dyspnea, breathlessness, and asthma in connection with the sandstorm had been reported. Deaths were recorded in the central province of Hama in the al-Salamiyeh and al-Sqeilbiyeh areas, according to Syria Arab News Agency.
Ridwan al-Ahmed, head of the country's meteorology department, told SANA that the storm could possibly continue through the end of the week.
SANA reported that the Ministry of the Interior's traffic department issued a road conditions bulletin for drivers in Homs province but the visibility in Hama City was medium.
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