Niamey: Turning the skies blood red, a huge sandstorm swept some regions over West Africa on Monday, dramatic videos of which are going viral on social media. The giant sand storm hit the city of Niamey, Niger around 2 pm on Monday, causing air traffic to temporarily stop. Also Read - African Swine Fever: All You Need to Know About This Viral Disease That Killed 2500 Pigs in Assam
Though not an unusual phenomenon, Niger is known for frequent sandstorms that sweep Saharan sand which usually occur from January to April, in what is known as the ‘Harmattan’ season.
One of the videos going viral shows a huge wall of sand engulfing buildings in Niamey, while others show reddish dust rising hundreds of meters above the houses and buildings in the area.
Some Twitter users described the sight as ‘utterly terrifying’, while some others called the event ‘apocalyptic’
The storms occur when thunderstorms elevate huge quantities of dust into the air and the plumes can travel for hundreds of kilometres releasing massive amount of dust onto cities.
As per the World Meteorological Organization, the dust , apart from creating visibility issues and travel delays, is also harmful for human health. Besides impacts from particles on human organs, some infectious diseases also may be transmitted by dust, such as meningococcal meningitis.
“Outbreaks occur worldwide, yet the highest incidence is found in the ‘meningitis belt,’ a part of sub-Saharan Africa with an estimated population of 300 million,” the WMO states.