PHOTOS: Iraq witnesses first dust storm of the year
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Major cities in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region witnessed the first dust storm of the year on Friday.
The poor weather conditions significantly reduced visibility across the central and northern parts of the country, including Erbil and Baghdad.
The source of the extreme weather was due to the eastern Mediterranean region, according to the country’s meteorological authority.
The storm began to recede on Saturday morning, however, the southern region is still experiencing dusty storms, according to the source.
The Kirkuk health department on Friday reported 14 cases of people having breathing issues.
Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are regularly impacted by severe dust storms during the months of April and May every year. The country’s international airports have had to stop flights. Last year, thousands were hospitalized for health complications caused by the extreme weather.
While dust storms are not new to Iraq, their recent frequency and intensity have raised concerns among environmentalists, who believe the worsening storms are partially caused by increased desertification and aridity.
A combination of climate change and outdated agricultural practices are also believed to be leading factors behind the frequent storms.
Iraq is ranked the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to the adverse effects of climate change. Officials believe increased dust storms and other extreme weather conditions will continue.