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Sandstorm in Riyadh grounds flights, closes schools

The freak sandstorm in Riyadh has caused chaos on the city’s streets and the cancellation of all flights at King Khaled International Airport (KKIA).

The high-velocity winds and poor visibility grounded the flights at airport. All incoming flights were diverted to neighboring countries including Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, Arab News reported.

The sandstorm led to the cancellation of 535 flights, both domestic and international. More than 100,000 passengers have been affected by flight cancellations until Friday.

Sandstorm in Riyadh (Photo: Arab News)
Sandstorm also closed schools in Riyadh and the Eastern Province on Thursday.

The sandstorm started on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia hitting Riyadh before travelling east toward the UAE.

Al Ain municipality’s emergency centre had received more than 220 calls during last week’s sandstorm.

Sandstorm accidents in Sharjah

The sandstorm that blew across the United Arab Emirates on Thursday was blamed for causing 82 accidents on Sharjah’s roads, The National reported.

According to the Police, at least two Morroccans got injured when their car swerved off the road and crashed in Al Muleiha and were taken to Kuwaiti Hospital. Other traffic accidents were minor.

Hospital staff in Fujairah treated patients suffering from asthma, allergies and respiratory problems, Dr Omar Musa, head of the emergency department at Al Sharq hospital said The National.

The Ministry of Health advised citizens and residents, especially those with asthma and chest infections to stay indoors, Arab News mentioned.

Sandstorm respiratory problem increases

Asthma and other respiratory illnesses have increased by up to 25 per cent, The National has mentioned quoting Dr Pierre Majdalani, a child asthma and allergy specialist at Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Centre, Dubai as saying.

In the UAE, at least 10 per cent of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis while 30 per cent are affected in Al Ain alone, Khaleej Times reported.

Bacteria and virus could also fly across countries through sandstorms and cause severe allergies.