Sandstorms kill four, cause suffocation symptoms in hundreds across eastern Syria, Iraq
Sandstorms which swept across eastern Syria and Iraq in recent days killed at least four people and caused suffocation symptoms in hundreds, The New Arab’s Arabic language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
The storms have hit displacement camps and damaged electricity and communication networks in the Syrian provinces of Deir Al-Zour and Al-Hasaka as well as the Iraqi provinces of Anbar, Baghdad and Kirkuk.
A man and his son died on Sunday from severe head and body injuries after the strong winds caused a wall to fall in Deir Ezzor, according to Mamoun Heza, a director at Al-Assad Hospital.
"Dust covered everything… obscuring the view, and the strong winds caused the collapse of walls and the fall of trees. It led to the uprooting of dozens of tents in the Abu Khashab [displacement] camps," activist Omar al-Bukamali told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
A third displaced person also died of suffocation, as medical teams were unable to treat him in time, according to al-Bukamali.
Those suffering from asthma and respiratory infections were particularly worried about the effect of the storms.
Hundreds flocked to hospitals due to shortness of breath and suffocation as 120 emergency cases arrived at the National Hospital in Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli alone, Omar Al-Akoub, the hospital’s director general, told Syrian regime news agency SANA.
Iraqi Ministry of Health spokesman Saif Al-Badr also announced that more than 2,000 cases of suffocation had been recorded across Iraq on Monday.
Although the ministry stated it had not recorded any casualties, activists said that a young child suffocated to death on Monday morning, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
Displaced persons living in Iraq’s Bzeibib camp also told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that their conditions are “tragic” following the storm, stating they are unable to leave their tents, many of which have reportedly collapsed.
Activists criticised the Iraqi government and the ministry of migration and displacement for neglecting the displaced, who cannot return to their homes, and who they say have not received sufficient aid.
The displaced in Iraq are suffering a harsh season of sandstorms that have hit on a weekly basis since the beginning of last March.