Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wire: Heavy Sandstorm Blankets Baghdad, Socks-in Biden

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2009 -- Newswire services Saturday reported that a heavy sandstorm has descended upon Baghdad, covering the Iraqi capital in dust. Conditions were so bad, Vice President Joe Biden was forced to cancel a planned trip to the Kurdish region in the country's north.

Wind whipped across the streets of the Baghdad, leaving much of the capital hidden in a dusty haze, VOA News reported.

VOA News noted the following details:
Many shops closed their doors, making parts of the city looking deserted. Those who did go outside wore surgical masks to help them breathe. One Iraqi man said there are many reasons for the frequent sandstorms plaguing Baghdad. He blames a lack of rain but also the U.S.-led forces. He says their heavy vehicles scatter the sands when they drive through the desert.

Police and security forces wore surgical masks as they helped direct traffic and keep watch.

Despite the difficulties some Iraqis were glad to see the sandstorm, like street vendor Abdulallah Najem. He said the sandstorms help him sell face masks, enough to make a living.
Many Iraqis headed to hospitals to get help from doctors and from machines as they struggled to get enough air, VOA said.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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