Cairo turns orange as massive sandstorm sets in

Residents took to social media to show the spectacle

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A huge sandstorm turned the sky orange over Cairo on Wednesday.

Visibility was severely reduced as the cloud of dust covered the sun - but it didn't stop residents from taking the opportunity to grab pictures and videos of the extreme weather.

Pedestrians headed for cover, and those who still had to take to the streets covered their faces with masks as the health ministry told anyone with respiratory issues to stay at home.

The ports of Suez and Zeitiyat were closed due to high winds, which reached more than 50kph, and choppy seas, Reuters reported.

Some residents voiced surprise at how the sandstorm was lasting for hours while others suggested it was unusual to experience one so severe in January.

Jan Thesleff, the Swedish ambassador in Cairo, tweeted his view from the embassy and likened the situation to a snow storm back home.

It wasn't just Egypt which was experiencing bad weather as winter storms battered the eastern Mediterranean.

For the last week, the area from Lebanon to Syria and down to Palestine and Israel has been buffeted by high winds, rain and snow.

Jerusalem was covered in nearly five centimeters of snow forcing schools to close early and some transport links to be shut on Wednesday.

While temperatures will hover just above freezing overnight, the snow is unlikely to last as Thursday is expected to see highs of 10C.

On Mount Hermon, the highest point of the occupied Golan Heights, ski slopes are yet to open with only 2 cm of snow so far.

Further north the cold snap has displaced hundreds of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, destroyed tents and made life difficult for thousands.

In Syria, at least eight children have died this month of the freezing temperatures and harsh living conditions in displacement camps.


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