Seasonal ‘black cloud’ casts shadow over Upper Egypt

The Environment Ministry has received numerous complaints from residents of the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag about cases of asphyxiation resulting from the "black cloud"–popularly attributed to the mass burning of rice stalks by farmers–which has recently appeared over the city and adjacent villages.

“The cloud can be particularly hazardous to those suffering from asthma,” said Dr. Ihab Abdel Hakam, director of the Manfalot Hospital.

The cloud over Sohag was said to have been caused by two farmers burning corn stalks over a two-acre area, in violation of ministry regulations.

Similar cases of asphyxiation have also been reported in the city of Assiut, while several road accidents reportedly occurred in the area due to poor visibility caused by the cloud.

According to Environment Ministry official Nader Shehata, the best way to combat the cloud is by recycling rice and corn stalks, which, he said, can be converted into fertilizer and fodder.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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