Huge sandstorm blankets Eilat, shuts airport

Main roads leading into Red Sea resort also closed due to thick cloud of orange sand

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Poor visibility caused by a sandstorm in Eilat, May 18, 2017. (Youtube screenshot)
Poor visibility caused by a sandstorm in Eilat, May 18, 2017. (Youtube screenshot)

Poor visibility caused by a massive and unexpected sandstorm on Thursday prompted authorities in Eilat to close both the airport and two main highways in and out of the southern city on the Red Sea.

Route 90, which connects Eilat to the rest of the country was shut in both directions from the Arava junction. Route 12, to the west, was also closed.

The Environment Ministry cautioned that those at risk, including children, the elderly, the ill, and pregnant women, should refrain from going outside, while the general population should not take part in strenuous physical activities outside.

Sandstorms often accompany hot winds blowing in from the Sinai desert.

In March, a Tel Aviv-bound flight from Vienna was forced to return to Austria as a result of a heavy sandstorm blanketing Israel.

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