Day off, traffic disrupted, electricity cut: heavy snowfalls turned daily life upside down on Tuesday, January 25, in Athens and paralyzed air traffic at Istanbul airport, one of the busiest in Europe.
While three flights were allowed to land in Istanbul on Tuesday morning, the situation remained chaotic at the airport in the Turkish megalopolis, where many exasperated tourists, stranded inside the terminals, were waiting for their planes, according to a photographer from the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“Only one of the three runways is now open to traffic”, an airport official told AFP.
Turkey’s main airline, Turkish Airlines, announced that its flights from Istanbul would not resume until midnight on Tuesday, but its passengers complained that they were not kept informed. Images shared on social networks showed passengers sleeping on armchairs or on the ground in the terminals.
In Athens, the paralysis of the road network, covered with a thick white coat, in particular on the Attiki Odos motorway ring road, forced the Greek government to decree two days off Tuesday and Wednesday.
All public and private services have been suspended in Attica, the Athens region, and on some snowy islands, except for essential services.
In the streets of Athens, the traffic of buses and trolleys is at a standstill. It is impossible to move, the roads remain cluttered with piles of snow, broken tree branches and cars broken down or abandoned by their occupants.
3,500 motorists trapped
On the toll ring road that circles Athens and serves the airport, “3,500 motorists” had to be evacuated overnight after being trapped by snowfall “exceptional”, Greek Civil Protection and Climate Change Minister Christos Stylianides reported on Tuesday.
Blankets, food, water bottles were distributed to motorists and many of them had to abandon their vehicles on the snow-covered road as the temperature fell below zero.
Christos Stylianides s’est “excused” for the incidents on the device but returned the responsibility to the management company which “failed to leave open this very busy axis”.
Attiki Odos’ company also apologized for these “unprecedented incidents” but pointed out that the problems were due “either to vehicle breakdowns, or to the lack of experience of motorists, some of whom were afraid”. Under pressure from the government, she promised « 2 000 euros » of damages per car stuck on the highway it manages.
The Athens Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation to find the responsibilities of the “disturbances and obstructions to traffic”, according to a judicial source.
The current was cut in several corners of Attica.
With the exception of the ring road, which remained closed on Tuesday, “almost all of the major axes [d’Athènes] have reopened » to traffic, welcomed the governor of Attica, George Patoulis, warning however on the public channel ERT TV that other snowfalls are expected in the evening.
But on the island of Euboea, ravaged by unprecedented forest fires last summer, the roads remained cut off. As on other islands of the Cyclades, deprived, moreover, of means of maritime transport because of the strong winds.