Baghdad and Najaf airports closed by bad weather

Dust storms caused by North African depression affect Iraq's central and northern areas

Iraq's southern city of Najaf is obscured by a dust storm on May 1, 2022. The bad weather forced the closure of the city's airport and the international airport in Baghdad. AFP
Powered by automated translation

A dust storm blanketed swathes of central Iraq on Sunday, turning skies orange, reducing visibility and suspending flights at two main airports.

Iraq's Meteorological Authority said the country was under a North African depression, known locally as "khamaseen".

The effects will be felt in the north-western and central parts of Iraq, the authority said. Some areas in the north will be also affected.

A warm air mass will accompany the depression, leading to dust storms in central areas the country before moving south, it added.

The dust storms in central Iraq are expected to clear by Monday morning, and by evening in the south, the authority said.

The bad weather on Sunday morning forced Baghdad International Airport and Najaf Airport south of the capital to suspend flights indefinitely.

Iraq has been hit by a series of dust storms since last month, sending hundreds to hospitals and delaying flights.

The country is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, partly because of its water insecurity.

Below-average rainfall, insufficient water resources and mismanagement have left the country parched for years, destroying swathes of arable land, affecting drinking water and increasing dust storms.

Sandstorm hits Iraq's northern cities — in pictures

Updated: May 01, 2022, 12:59 PM