Death toll reaches 6 on fourth day of Lebanon sandstorm

09/11/2015 - 22:26 PM

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BEIRUT: At least one person died Thursday due to the sandstorm that is still engulfing Lebanon for the fourth day, raising the overall death toll to six.

More than 2,660 citizens have been hospitalized for shortness of breath and asphyxiation, according to the latest report by the Ministry of Health, and 120 have been moved to governmental hospitals.

Mahmoud Sleiman al-Ashi, who resides in the southern refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, passed away Thursday.

The state-run National News Agency said Ashi had suffered from chronic heart disease, allergy and asthma.

Another death was registered in the northern district of Akkar. The NNA said that 70-year-old Amena Issa passed away due to shortness of breath.

However, in a statement later Thursday, the ministry said Issa died because of a heart attack and dismissed reports that tied her death to the sandstorm. It did not mention Ashi's case.

The statement added that it had put on “full alert” all medical care apparatuses in the country and equipped them with allergy medication and protective masks thanks to a UNICEF contribution.

The ministry said it coordinated with the NGO Beyond to send medical teams and mobile clinics to be present with refugees. It added that 477 refugees were examined and provided medicine and masks, and a “small number” were moved to hospitals and were covered by the ministry.

The manager of Sidon's Hamshari Hospital Riad Abu al-Aynayn announced that the hospital received more than 25 shortness of breath cases in the past few hours, the NNA quoted him as saying.

He said that some cases were treated in the emergency room, while other cases required the patients to remain at the hospital.

Civil defense teams also managed to extinguish fires that erupted in the Akkar town of Kobayat, Aintoura in the Metn and Mrouj in the Metn.

The damages caused by the storm began appearing in the Bekaa Valley as it began to subside.

Major harm was inflicted on crops due to the accumulation of dust.

Some private schools reopened their doors as public institutions resumed work.

The Meteorology Department said Thursday that the Middle East will remain under the impact of the storm throughout the day.

The weather will gradually change as of Friday afternoon, the department said.

Friday will see partly cloudy skies with fog at higher altitudes. A slight decrease in temperatures will occur along the coast, but humidity will remain high and could affect visibility, according to the forecast.

Friday’s temperatures are expected to range between 28 and 35 degrees along the coast, 24 and 32 in the mountains, 21 and 27 in the Cedars, and 27 and 38 in the Bekaa Valley.

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