Iraq records first death from weeks-long dust storm
Iraq's recent wave of dust storms have left one person dead and thousands hospitalised due to breathing difficulties, the health ministry said.
At least 5,000 people have been hospitalised from the storms began, with 2,000 of the cases alone recorded in the capital city Baghdad, the ministry announced on Thursday.
The ministry urged people with respiratory problems to stay indoors as much as they can and to wear a mask if they go outside.
This is the first known death since the storms began.
Iraq was hammered by a series of such storms in April, grounding flights and leaving dozens hospitalised with respiratory problems.
Amer al-Jabri, of Iraq's meteorological office, said that the weather phenomenon is expected to become increasingly common "due to drought, desertification and declining rainfall".
Iraq is particularly vulnerable to climate change, having already witnessed record low rainfall and high temperatures in recent years.
Experts have said these factors threaten to bring social and economic disaster in the war-scarred country.
In November, the World Bank warned that Iraq could suffer a 20-percent drop in water resources by 2050 due to climate change.
In early April, environment ministry official Issa al-Fayad had warned that Iraq could face "272 days of dust" a year in coming decades, according to the state news agency INA.
The ministry said the weather phenomenon could be confronted by "increasing vegetation cover and creating forests that act as windbreaks".