A huge sandstorm with record winds killed as many as four people in Iran’s capital of Tehran on Monday. The storm plunged the city into almost complete darkness, while damaging many buildings, knocking electricity out and causing a compete disruption of services.
The freakish weather hit Tehran at just after 5:00 pm sending the city’s residents running for any form of cover as area debris was swept across city streets and trees were snapped. State media announced that winds had reached over 69 miles per hour.
State television forecasters initially had warned residents of Tehran to remain indoors shortly before an announcement by the ISNA News agency that said fatalities had been caused by tree falling.
Iran’s chief official for emergencies, Amin Sabernia, announced the four deaths and said as many as another 27 were injured, with 10 from an accident on the road when darkness suddenly descended.
Later state television reported that two of the people injured were in critical condition.
Nearly 7,000 emergency workers had to be deployed in just one hour, said city officials. The weather is expected to by bad in the area through Wednesday.
One woman that ran into a store in the central of the capital’s business district said she was scared and that the event was like a Hollywood apocalyptic movie.
A man said he had never experienced something like the storm and was afraid it could be an omen of what was to come.
Residents of Iran, which is prone to earthquakes, usually make those types of comments when a strong tremor is thought to be imminent.
Following a period of just 15 minutes, the darkness started lifting and rains followed with the winds staying strong for a period.
Social media postings showed a huge sand cloud engulfing the city prior to darkness setting with the temperature outside plunging to 18 degrees Celsius from 33 degrees.
An official from the electrical company was quoted on state television that power was lost in over 50,000 homes.
Flights leaving Tehran were being delayed.
Telephone and Internet services were also heavily affected.
About an hour and a half following the storm, winds seemed to calm and more vehicles could be seen out on city streets.