A heavy sandstorm has blanketed Iraq's capital, closing the Baghdad airport and delaying the country's first oil bidding process in 30 years, Associated Press reported.
Visibility is only a few yards and most of the few people on the streets are wearing surgical masks. Doctors at the city's hospitals said Sunday that people were coming in complaining about shortness of breath and other problems.
Iraq had planned to award eight oil and gas fields to international oil companies for long-term development on Monday and Tuesday. But the airport closure prevented company representatives from landing in Baghdad.
Sandstorms are a regular occurrence in Baghdad although it is shielded from the desert by a thin strip of arable land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.