A Sandstorm Strikes The Middle East—And Hard

Published September 10, 2015
Updated January 24, 2018
Lebanon Sandstorm

Protective coverings are a must when travelling outdoors in the storm. Source: Guardian

Deadly. Unprecedented. These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the massive sandstorm that has been sweeping across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other parts of the Middle East since Monday of this week. The first-hand accounts of darkened skies and harsh air are haunting enough—and the photos will blow your mind:

Lebanon Camel
Lebanon Sandstorm Beirut
Lebanon Sandstorm Nasa
Aerial Storm
A Sandstorm Strikes The Middle East—And Hard
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While sandstorms aren’t uncommon in the Middle East, this storm’s timing and intensity were completely unexpected. Usually the area receives one or two storms around spring, but rarely are they this forbidding. In fact, in Lebanon the storm is so low and dense that police have started handing out face masks and have advised residents to remain indoors whenever possible.

So far the storm has claimed at least a dozen lives, grounded planes and hospitalized hundreds of people with a myriad of respiratory problems—especially in Syrian refugee camps, which lack the protections that other indoor facilities provide. Thousands of people have sought medical treatment so far, and some hospitals are actually running out of life-saving oxygen.

Local media in Syria reported that the storm impacted visibility so severely that fighting and air strikes were disrupted.

It’s next to impossible to truly understand just how bad the Lebanon sandstorm is without being there, but this video does a pretty good job:

Kiri Picone
Bay Area transplant Kiri Picone is a writer and marketer who loves bizarre news and the color purple.