Wave of sulfur dioxide gas to hit Iraq, Kurdistan Region: official

A view of the Mount Etna eruption spewing ash, as seen from Paterno, Italy, in this image obtained from social media dated February 16, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq including the Kurdistan Region will face a wave of sulfur dioxide gas in the coming hours, after a volcano erupted on the Italian island of Sicily, according to an Iraqi expert and a Kurdish official.

The Mount Etna volcano erupted in the early hours of Thursday morning, shooting meter-high lava into sky from the mountain.

Weather forecaster Sadiq Atiyah said a wave of sulfur dioxide, or SO2 gas, was heading towards Syria, Iraq and Turkey due to the eruption of the Mount Etna volcano.

“It will cross our airspace within 48 hours,” he added.

Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas with a pungent odor that irritates skin and the issues and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. SO2 emissions can cause acid rain and air pollution downwind of a volcano.

Spokesman of Kurdistan Region’s environment commission Ahmed Mohammed said the gas would reach the Region in the next 48 hours.

“It is not so dangerous, though. It mostly stays in the air, but it still requires self-protection,” he told Esta Media Network.

The gas would affect those who have asthma and breathing problems, he noted.

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