TEHRAN, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Heavy air pollution in Iran's southeastern city of Ahvaz, the capital city of Iran's southwestern province of Khuzestan, is in a very critical condition and reached 60 times above safe levels on Tuesday.
On the day, some 30 flights to and from Ahvaz were cancelled due to the thick dust on the air. The local officials banned bus travelling in the city.
Besides, people were advised to stay at their homes and avoid unnecessary tours in the likelihood of hazardous health risks.
Recently, the dust storms have swept into Khuzestan province with strong gusts of wind and dust particles.
The storms have knocked out power for thousands of people, disrupted access to running water for hours and resulted in the closure of schools and public offices.
The blackouts have also broken the connection between water treatment plants and the running water distribution network.
The embattled province has roughly 400,000 hectares of barren land that exacerbate its near permanent struggle with dust storms that mostly originate in neighboring countries.
To make matters worse, the provincial sources of dust storms are getting bigger and the Department of Environment does not have enough funds to put an end to it, according to the head of the department, Massoumeh Ebtekar.
"Due to prolonged drought, sources of dust storms in the province are growing at an alarming rate," Ebtekar said.
According to local news, the supreme leader of the Islamc Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has recently authorized the Iranian administration to withdraw a sum of 150 million U.S. dollars from the National Development Fund for projects to tackle the heavy dust pollution in the country.