A plague of locusts descended Saturday on agricultural farms in Giza and on Cairo. Egyptian Agricultural Minister Salah Abad Almoman said the swarm is comprised of an estimated 30 million insects and was causing great damage.
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In Cairo, residents burned tires to create a black fog to keep the locusts from settling in the city. Swarms were also reported to have reached Egypt's Red Sea city of Zafarana, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Cairo, and then the Upper Egyptian city of Qena where locusts appeared in at least three major villages.
The Al-Ahram daily reported that since January, swarms of the insects - originating from Sudan - have been spotted along the Red Sea coast in south-eastern Egypt, north-eastern Sudan, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia.
In 2004, Egypt witnessed one of the most serious locust infestations in recent history, when farmers in 15 out of the country's 27 governorates suffered extensive crop damage. The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement saying it had set up task forces to deal with the locust plague.
A professor at Cairo University's Faculty of Agriculture said the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warned of the locust danger last November, but the Ministry of Agriculture dismissed the warnings as rumors and refused to examine the issue.
Professor Nader Nur al-Din claimed that over the past few months he had also warned the ministry of the locust threat.