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An 'apocalyptic' dust storm that killed four people and hospitalised thousands could hit Europe as early as next week.
A number of countries in the Middle East have been suffering from extreme weather caused by climate change, leading to orange-coloured, dust-laden skies.
In mid-May, a sandstorm blanketed areas in Iraq, Syria and Iran, and now hospitals are overrun with patients experiencing breathing difficulties.
The Iraqi Ministries of Health and Electricity announced a state of emergency due to the severe dust clouds hitting the country.
Flights at Baghdad Airport have also been suspended while the Iraqi authorities ordered government offices to shut in several regions, and at least four people are reported to have died in Iraq and Syria from the gritty haze in the atmosphere.
Various Middle Eastern regions have been experiencing the extreme weather since March, driven by severe droughts, rising temperatures and less rainfall due to global warming.
Speaking to the Guardian, Nasim Hossein Hamzeh, a dust researcher at Fan Gostar Air and Climate, a climate consulting company in Iran, said: “The increasing frequency of dust storms means more problems, more loss of life and property, and more destruction."
As local governments attempt to ease the damage and protect the public, experts believe the latest sandstorm could travel over to Europe in the coming days.
Muge Akpinar-Elci, dean of the school of public health at the University of Nevada, told the publication: “It is very concerning. Dust storms do not just impact one country or specific location in the world and can have far-reaching consequences globally.
“The impact of dust storms exceeds regional and continental boundaries. So this is not somebody else’s problem, this is everyone’s problem.”
Weather forecaster AccuWeather states that part of the UK will reach level eight UV rays on the UV index from June 18, which is regarded as 'unhealthy'.
The level is the same reached in the country back when orange clouds from Saharan dust shrouded London earlier this year.
A Saharan dust cloud has turned skies over London an eerie shade of orange in March.The next sandstorm is expected to reaching the southeast UK during the morning of 20 May#SaveSoil #ClimateCrisis pic.twitter.com/aToiHNbXtA— 🌱 Prashant T. #SaveSoil (@angelprashant) May 18, 2022
Whether or not this will hit the UK again is yet to be seen, but the impact it is having in parts of the Middle East is devastating.
And the situation is only set to get worse as climate change continues, as warned by Mohammed Mahmoud, the director of the climate and water programme at the Middle East Institute.
He told the Guardian: “Just look to the sky. If the visual of dark orange apocalyptic skies isn’t enough, it’s the net impact of these multiple dust storms happening in rapid order."
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Featured Image Credit: AHMED JALIL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images
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