Deadly sandstorm plunges Iran capital into darkness
TEHRAN – At least three people were killed and dozens injured in Tehran on Monday when an unprecedented sandstorm and record winds hit the city, Iranian news agencies reported.
The freak weather also knocked out power in 50,000 homes, said an electricity official quoted on the ISNA agency.
The weather which struck at 5:10 pm (1240 GMT) sent residents dashing for cover as debris swept across streets and snapped trees. State media reported 120 kilometre (80-mile) per hour winds.
Experts on state television warned Tehranis to stay indoors.
A woman running into a shop in the capital's central business district to escape the gales said: "This is like an apocalyptic Hollywood movie. I'm scared."
"I've never seen anything like this. I was afraid it was an omen of things to come," a man inside the same building said.
Residents of earthquake-prone Iran usually make such comments when they fear a strong tremor is imminent.
After a 15-minute gloom caused by the sandstorm, it started to rain with winds remaining strong.
State television's main weather forecaster, Mohammad Asghari, warned that the bad weather could continue for two hours.
Flights out of Tehran were delayed, Fars news agency said, quoting airport officials. Internet and telephone services were heavily affected.
About 90 minutes later, the winds appeared to ease and cars returned on the streets, although many opted for caution, staying on in office buildings.