Egypt's state news agency says authorities have closed four ports in the Suez governorate because of poor visibility due to a sandstorm gripping the Middle East.

Egypt's state news agency MENA quotes the General Authority for Red Sea Ports as saying visibility in the area was reduced to less than 1,500 meters (just under 1 mile) Wednesday morning.

MENA reports that the ports specialize in transporting containers, goods, oils, petroleum products and passengers.

The unseasonal sandstorm has swept across the Mideast, blanketing Beirut, Cairo and Damascus and causing the deaths of at least five people and sending hundreds of others to hospitals with breathing problems.