A devastating sandstorm ripped through Egypt’s capital on Thursday, engulfing the city in clouds of orange. One person was killed and five others were injured Thursday when a billboard collapsed in a major thoroughfare, state media reported. The storm “crushed” four vehicles on the October 6 motorway in the centre of Cairo, home to a population of 20 million people, according to local reports.
Traffic authorities worked to “remove the wreckage of the billboard and restore the movement of traffic”, the newspaper added. Videos circulating on social media show visibility dropping to near zero on roads and at sea, with terrifying clouds threatening to engulf ships on the Suez Canal.
Sandstorms regularly pummel Egypt during the spring, causing respiratory issues, according to the health ministry. Authorities closed two ports along the Suez Canal on Thursday “due to bad weather conditions”, including intense winds and high waves accompanying the sandstorm.
Reduced visibility during a similar storm in 2021 led to the giant container ship Ever Given getting wedged diagonally across the Suez Canal, disrupting trade flows for nearly a week. Egypt’s roads are notoriously dangerous and badly maintained, and drivers often break speed limits and other traffic rules.
With a population of more than 105 million, Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous country.