Baghdad, May 17 (IANS): A dust storm swept across much of Iraq, sending more than 2,000 people to hospitals with respiratory problems and forcing the closure of airports, schools and some government offices.
The dust storm occured on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.
Sayf al-Badr, a spokesman for the Iraqi Health Ministry, said in a statement that most of the 2,000 hospitalised suffer from mild or moderate symptoms and have left the hospitals after receiving treatments.
According to al-Badr, the number of patients admitted to hospitals could rise.
The severe dust storm forced the Iraqi authorities to suspend flights for several hours in Baghdad, Najaf and Sulaimaniyah airports, according to Iraqi officials.
Monday's dust storm is one of the several storms that hit Iraq during the past month as a result of climatic change, lack of vegetation cover and rapid desertification.
Iraqi meteorologists and health officials have warned of the impact of the increasing storms on the health and lives of citizens in the absence of solutions.