The arrival of an enormous sandstorm in the Middle East has some Bible scholars speculating it could be “divine intervention”.
Northwesterly winds of more than 44mph caused dust and sand to swirl through the air, reducing visibility to less than 164 feet.
Sandstorms are not uncommon in the region, but the intensity and low visibility of this weather phenomenon prompted the Saudi Civil Defence to urge people to stay inside, particularly if they suffered from respiratory illnesses.
One video shared on social media platforms showed streetlights and electricity poles being knocked over by strong winds.
Another showed a bright red cloud of dust enveloping Arar in the Northern Borders Province and completely obstructing visibility.
Religious current affairs site Israel 365 News suggested the “freak Biblical sandstorm” may have been prophesied in the Book of Exodus from the Hebrew Bible.
“And Hashem went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people,” reads Exodus 13:21.
The verse was quoted in a recent article by the website covering the sandstorm, and also included a reference to an interview with apocalypse expert Rabbi Pinchas Winston.
“[He] believes that as times go on, such events indicating divine intervention in mundane events will become more prevalent,” the article reads.
It goes on to quote the rabbi as saying: “In the later stages of the geula (redemption) the mixture of miracle and nature will increase to the point where it will become so clear it will be undeniable.
“You can’t conclusively say anything is hashgacha pratit (divine intervention). But the people who are prepared to look at the big picture will be able to connect the dots in a way that makes more sense than trying to explain everything in strictly natural terms.”
On Monday the sand storm swept east through the desert and over to China, turning the skies above the southwest region of Mongolia an eerie orange.
Social media footage revealed the apocalyptic scenes with some videos showing a huge barrel of cloud filled with sand, and others depicting drivers are stranded inside their cars in a low-visibility area.
At least 10 people were killed due to a lethal combination of sand and high air pollution.
Local residents called it a “Doomsday moment” on Douyin, a Chinese video-sharing app similar to TikTok.
One said: “Feels like you’re on a different planet now …Mars.”
Another wrote: “This is so scary to watch. I’ve never seen such a huge sandstorm in my life.”