Another sandstorm that descended on Iraq sent at least 2,000 people to hospital with breathing problems and led to the closure of airports, schools and public offices across the country
It is the eighth duststorm since mid-April to hit Iraq, which has been battered by soil degradation, intense droughts and low rainfall linked to climate change.
The last one earlier this month led to the death of one person while 5,000 others had to be hospitalised for respiratory problems.
On Monday a thick cloud of dust enveloped the capital Baghdad in an orange glow and blanketed many other cities including the Shiite shrine city of Najaf to the south, and Sulaimaniyah, in the northern Kurdish autonomous region, AFP correspondents said.
Yellow and orange sand covered building roofs, cars and even crept into homes.
Authorities in seven of Iraq's 18 provinces, including Baghdad, ordered government offices to shut..
The sandstorm drastically reduced visibility to just 300 metres (yards) at Baghdad airport, prompting authorities to close airspace and halt flights, state-run INA news agency reported.
Airports in Najaf and Sulaimaniyah were also closed for the day, the agency said.
Schools nationwide were also shuttered and end of year exams postponed to Tuesday. Universities also delayed exams.
The latest sandstorm was expected to gradually dissipate by Monday evening, weather services said.
The Middle East has always been battered by dust and sandstorms but they have become more frequent and intense in recent years.
The trend has been associated with overuse of river water, more dams, overgrazing and deforestation.
Iraq is rich in oil and is known in Arabic as the land of the two rivers -- in reference to the legendary Tigris and Euphrates rivers.