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    Severe sandstorm hits Zaranj

    ZARANJ (PAN): A severe sandstorm struck most of the Zaranj city, the capital of southwestern Nimroz province, forcing authorities to order schools and government offices closed on Tuesday, officials said.

    The storm that began late on Monday intensified since last night, covering homes, streets, and cars in dust, Qasam Khudri, the deputy governor, told Pajhwok Afghan News.   

    Except hospitals, all schools and government departments including the power directorate, and customs and others, were ordered to stay closed until the situation improved, he said.

    The decision was aimed at preventing possible risks of illness and traffic accidents in the city, he said.

    Mohammad Amin, the meteorology department head, said the storm maintained 80 kilometers per-hour wind speed with five meters visibility. He predicted the storm could take two more days to last.

    Approximately 128 educational centres were ordered closed in Zaranj city for the day, Abdul Khalil Rahmani, the education department chief, said.

    Dr. Sayed Khalil Shah Kazemi, a doctor on duty at the provincial hospital, said such storms could cause asthma, cough, and influenza. He advised people to protect themselves from the storm to avoid possible illnesses.

    Shah Wali, an area resident, said they were unable to come out of their houses. He said all markets and stores had been closed.

    mrh/ma