Severe sandstorm hits Egyptian cities, ports

A man covers his face during a sandstorm near the River Nile in Cairo.
A man covers his face during a sandstorm near the River Nile in Cairo.PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (REUTERS) - Egypt's capital Cairo and some of its port cities were hit by a severe sandstorm, with strong winds and heavy dust forcing the closure of several ports.

Pedestrians ducked into buildings for cover as a dark orange cloud descended on Cairo, with many to using surgical masks to shield themsevles against the sand blowing in the wind.

Motorists complained of reduced visibility on the highways leading and out of the city.

"The colour of the air is changing. There is some kind of fog. No one can see. So I hope God will get us through this, given that we're riding motorcycles," said Mahmoud, a motorcycle driver.

Sources at Cairo airport said the storm had caused some delays.

The Red Sea Ports Authority closed the ports of Suez and Zeitiyat at 2pm (1200 GMT) due to bad weather, wind and high waves.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Reda El Ghandour, a spokesman for the Alexandria Port Authority, said that the maritime traffic remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day in the ports of Alexandria and Dekheila.

The health ministry has advised people suffering from respiratory problems to avoid leaving their homes amidst the storm.