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27 May, 2024
 
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Athens blanketed in Sahara dust, city bathed in orange glow

Greece's capital choked by Sahara dust storm, health alerts issued

Source: The Guardian

Clouds of dust blown in from the Sahara covered Athens and other Greek cities on Tuesday, one of the worst such episodes to hit the country since 2018, officials said.

A yellow-orange haze smothered several regions after days of strong winds from the south, limiting visibility and prompting warnings from the authorities of breathing risks.

“It’s one of the most serious episodes of dust and sand concentrations from the Sahara since March 21-22, 2018, when the clouds invaded the island of Crete in particular,” said Kostas Lagouvardos, weather research director at the Athens Observatory.

Greece had already been struck by Sahara dust clouds in late March and early April which also smothered parts of Switzerland and southern France.

Authorities warned that the dust concentrations can reduce sunlight and visibility while increasing concentrations of fine pollution particles, posing risks for people with underlying health problems.

The Sahara releases 60 to 200m tonnes of mineral dust a year. While the largest particles come rapidly back down to earth, the smallest can travel thousands of kilometres, potentially reaching all of Europe.

The Greek weather service said the skies would begin to clear on Wednesday.

The strong southerly winds over the past few days have also fanned unseasonal early wildfires in the country’s south.

The fire service said on Tuesday evening that a total of 25 wildfires broke out across the country in the past 24 hours. Three people were arrested on the Aegean Sea resort island of Paros on suspicion of accidentally starting a scrub blaze on Monday, it added. No significant damage or injuries were reported, and the fire was quickly contained.

Another blaze that broke out on Crete near a naval base was brought under control Tuesday.

[Source: The Guardian]

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