A sandstorm engulfed parts of Israel and Egypt, causing the worst air pollution in years, while high waves and powerful winds battered the coast of Lebanon.

The sandstorm, made up of dust carried from the Sahara Desert, enshrouded Cairo for a second day. The sandstorm hit Egypt after unusually warm and sunny weather for a February day. The sky over downtown Cairo turned yellow and blotted out the sun, limiting visibility.

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A sandstorm engulfs CairoAsmaa Waguih/Reuters
Cairo sandstorm
A man and a woman ride on a motorcycle over a bridge during a sandstorm in CairoAsmaa Waguih/Reuters

Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry said air pollution levels were the country's worst in five years.

Airports spokeswoman Liza Dvir said flights to and from the Red Sea resort city of Eilat were grounded.

sandstorm Israel
A Palestinian youth stands in front of the ruins of houses that were destroyed during the 50-day war last summer, on a stormy day in the east of Gaza CityMohammed Salem/Reuters
sandstorm Israel
Palestinians walk Gaza City's al-Shejaiya neighbourhood during a sandstormMohammed Abed/AFP

In Beirut, strong waves broke fences, tiles and tore away part of its corniche overlooking the Mediterranean. The storm also brought heavy winds, rain and snow to the mountains.

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A road damaged by high waves is seen by the seaside in Dbayeh, north of BeirutMohamed Azakir/Reuters
lebanon storm
An oil tanker makes its way through rough seas off the coast of BeirutJoseph Eid/AFP
lebanon storm
Fishing boats that were washed ashore lie on the rocks by the seaside in BeirutJamal Saidi/Reuters
lebanon storm
A man sweeps water and rubbish out of his home after a storm flooded it, by the seaside in BeirutJamal Saidi/Reuters
lebanon storm
A fisherman stands amid debris washed up by a storm in BeirutJamal Saidi/Reuters
lebanon storm
A man takes a selfie as waves crash on to Beirut's Corniche, a seaside promenadeMohamed Azakir/Reuters