At least four people have been killed, and 30 others injured, in what’s being described as a “freak” sandstorm in Iran’s capital city of Tehran.
Winds of the “unprecedented storm" reached 70 mph and knocked out power for roughly 50,000 homes Monday, the Agence France-Presse reports. The cause of fatalities and injures were falling trees and flying debris. As the gloomy weather veiled the city in darkness for more than an hour, temperatures dropped from 91 degrees Fahrenheit at 5 p.m. to 66 degrees by 6 p.m., The Washington Post reports.
"This is like an apocalyptic Hollywood movie. I'm scared," a woman, who ran into a shop in Tehran to escape the harsh winds, told the AFP.
Sandstorms are common in arid regions like the Middle East, but such strong storms are uncommon in cities like Tehran, the BBC notes. Also called "haboobs," these storms form from gusty winds that pick up sand along desert regions. They typically last only 10 to 30 minutes, but the violent winds are no small matter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the rapid winds can create a blowing sand wall of up to 10,000 feet.
Several witnesses of Monday’s storm took to social media to share their terrifying glimpses of the impending sand clouds.
How terrifying to look out your window in Tehran and see this unprecedented sandstorm coming at you. pic.twitter.com/0XpHhWQ8j5
— Arash Karami (@thekarami) June 2, 2014
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 2, 2014
A picture of the sandstorm in Tehran, taken right now by a friend living there. See previous Tweet. pic.twitter.com/0H82qIkN2M
— Brother Tawhidi (@Tawhidicom) June 2, 2014
The skies over Tehran suddenly turned black as a wall of sand hit the city from the west, my wife called me to come home "now"
— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) June 2, 2014
— Meet Iran (@MeetIran) June 2, 2014
More severe storms are expected to hit Tehran later in the week, the Iran Meteorological Organization announced, per the Tehran Times.
In 2009, a week-long sandstorm hit nearby Iraq and blanketed the streets of Baghdad. The storm -- at the time said to be country’s worst in recent memory -- could even be seen from space, NASA said.