Temperatures are soaring across the Middle East, with winds and sandstorms driving people indoors as unlucky pedestrians try to shield themselves from the sun with books, newspapers or anything they can find.

In the Egyptian capital, Cairo, the thermometer hit 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) at midday Wednesday, a level rarely touched this early in the year.

Air traffic control in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria said a sandstorm obscured visibility so badly that they had to shut down Burj Al Arab airport and divert three flights to Cairo that were coming from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In Libya, a sandstorm in the east blew up dust that was orange-red, driving residents of the city of Beyda indoors where air-conditioning use increased, leading to a few hours of power cuts.