Air traffic suspended today, Monday at eastern Libya due to a strong sandstorm coming from the Sahara, which also caused public services and educational institutions to temporarily close their gates, according to local authorities.

Aircraft take-off and landing have been suspended until further notice at all airports in the region, mainly at Benina in Benghazi where the runway has been covered by a thick layer of sand, according to images broadcast by local media.

“All flights to and from Benina airport have been suspended due to lack of visibility and adverse weather conditions,” Saleh al-Amrouni, director of the airport, told al-Masar TV.

Libya, which has been plunged into chaos since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, is run by two rival governments: one in Tripoli (western Libya) under UN-recognised Abdelhamid Dbeiba, the other in eastern Libya , represented by Parliament and linked to Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s camp.

As of Sunday, eastern Libyan authorities had decided that today and tomorrow, Tuesday, would be a “holiday for all public services due to bad weather conditions,” according to national news agency Lana News.

In addition, agencies at road safety barriers and law enforcement authorities on the public road network were instructed to restrict traffic and the movement of citizens in areas where visibility is poor.

A state of emergency was also declared in the eastern Libyan city of Derna to protect an injured population still in shock after the deadly floods in September 2023 that left thousands dead and missing and more than 40,000 displaced.

Strong winds also blew in the cities of Tobruk, Al-Bayda and Ajdabiya in northeastern Libya where the sky turned brown, visibility was very poor and residents stayed indoors.