Sand storm hits Iraqi cities: 1,000 admitted to hospitals, 3 airports closed

BAGHDAD — A Sand storm crippled six Iraqi cities Wednesday night, including Baghdad, Anbar, Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk), Najaf, Karbala, and Saladin governorates.

In Anbar Governorate alone, some 700 respiratory cases were registered, according to Iraq News Agency. 

There were 332 registered cases in Saladin Governorate and more than 100 cases each in Najaf and Al-Diwaniyah.

Health authorities in Anbar and Kerkeslokh Governorates in the north called on residents to stay in their homes.

Iraqi authorities announced the suspension of flights to and from Baghdad, Najaf, and Sulaymaniyah airports.

Over the last two months, unprecedented sand storms have battered Iraq. Experts have attributed the increased frequency and severity of the storms to climate change and the lack of rainfall.