North African sandstorm ‘Madar’ disrupts life in Saudi Arabia

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A dust storm sweeping across Saudi Arabia hit Jeddah early Sunday. (AN photo by Ghazi Mahdi)
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A dust storm sweeping across Saudi Arabia hit Jeddah early Sunday. (AN photo by Arkan Al-Adnani))
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At sundown, the sandstorm in Jeddah and nearby places have yet to abate. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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A dust storm sweeping across Saudi Arabia hit Jeddah early Sunday. (AN photo by Ghazi Mahdi)
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A dust storm sweeping across Saudi Arabia hit Jeddah early Sunday. (AN photo by Ghazi Mahdi)
Updated 20 March 2017
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North African sandstorm ‘Madar’ disrupts life in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Sandstorm “Madar” is expected to continue disrupting traffic and daily routines in many areas in the Kingdom on Monday, with visibility expected to drop below 2 km in several areas, according to the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection (PME).
Thunderstorms and heavy rainfall are predicted in Asir, Jazan and Najran while the wind speeds are expected to hit 55km.
Weather changes have caused flight delays and cancelations and school closures.
The dusty weather in Jeddah and other areas in the Kingdom is caused by a sandstorm that hit the Libyan desert in the past few days, and then passed through Egypt.
“We are in a transitional phase when changes in weather are expected,” Hussein Al-Qahtani, a spokesman for the PME, told Arab News.
The move from winter to spring is expected to bring rapid weather changes, strong winds and fluctuations in temperatures in the coming days, he added.
The PME issued a red color-coded warning “of severe meteorological phenomena” on Sunday due to the Madar sandstorm in some regions, including Madinah, Makkah and Riyadh. The visibility in these regions along with Al-Jouf, Tabuk, the Eastern Province and the Northern Border is expected to drop below 2 km.
“Jeddah’s case is the lowest on the scale of climate severity,” Al-Qahtani said. Yet some schools sent students home due to fears the weather conditions would worsen. Such conditions can be particularly risky for those suffering from respiratory allergies and asthma.
Dr. Hanan Fan, consultant pulmonologist at a public hospital in Jeddah, told Arab News that students with respiratory problems should take precautions if they go to school on a dusty day.
Fan advised people with asthma to stay home in such weather, keeping their windows closed. They also need to use preventer inhalers when necessary. If any dyspnea or persistent coughing occurs, a visit to an emergency unit is advised.
“In case of leaving home, you have to use the preventer inhaler 10 minutes earlier to avoid your condition (worsening) and turn into an asthma attack,” Fan said. “And, of course, don’t forget to cover your nose and mouth to stay on the safe side.”


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.