Sandstorm lashes Middle East

2015-02-11 20:38
The Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound during a dust storm in Jerusalem's old city. (Sebastian Scheiner, AP)

The Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound during a dust storm in Jerusalem's old city. (Sebastian Scheiner, AP)

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Cairo - A fierce sandstorm lashed Egypt, Israel and Lebanon on Wednesday, forcing the closure of the Suez Canal and grounding domestic flights in Israel, officials said.

The skyline of Cairo was barely visible as dust blown in from the surrounding desert hung in the air and shrouded the Egyptian capital for a second day.

A few incoming flights were diverted to other airports in the country but most air traffic was normal, an airport official said.

But the Suez Canal southeast of Cairo was closed on Wednesday, with 52 ships waiting to enter from the Red Sea as winds reached 74km/h, officials told AFP.

Traffic would resume once the storm subsides, the officials said.

The health ministry advised Egyptians to wear masks when leaving their homes.

In neighbouring Israel, the domestic carrier Arkia said it had grounded flights for several hours until 14:00 GMT because of bad weather.

Read more on:    egypt  |  israel  |  air travel  |  weather

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