The concentration of dust particles in Ahwaz air has reached its highest levels in recent days, forcing people to stay home and avoid the streets. Following school closures, 11 Khuzestan cities have now closed all government offices as well.

On Sunday February 9, the streets of Ahwaz were deserted, with no pedestrians or vehicles moving about the city due to the unrelenting dust in the air.

The Mehr News Agency writes that the concentration of dust requires vehicles to turn on their fog lights, adding: “Karoon Bridge cannot be seen from 100 metres away.”

All government offices in Ahwaz, Abadan, Mahshahr, Hendijan, Dasht Azadegan, Karoon, Bavi, Omidieh, Hamidieh, Khoramshahr and Ramshir have been closed as well as all schools.

The concentration of particles in the air now exceeds 9,000 micrograms per cubic metre, and the report adds that in Mahshahr it even reached 10,000 micrograms, which makes it 66 times the acceptable level.

The Department of the Environment says a reduction in rainfall, the drying out of lagoons and the lack of mulching in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are some of the chief causes of the dust storms.    

Reports indicate that the dust will persist in Khuzestan at least to the end of this week.