Europe’s busiest airport shut down in Istanbul on Monday whereas colleges and vaccination centres closed in Athens as a uncommon snowstorm blanketed swathes of the japanese Mediterranean, inflicting blackouts and site visitors havoc.
The closure of Istanbul Airport — the place the roof of one of many cargo terminals collapsed below heavy snow, inflicting no accidents — grounded flights stretching from the Middle East and Africa to Europe and Asia.
Travel officers instructed AFP it marked the glass-and-steel construction’s first shutdown because it changed Istanbul’s outdated Ataturk Airport as the brand new hub for Turkish Airlines in 2019.
The winter’s first snow created a enjoyable ambiance throughout the squares of Istanbul’s historic mosques, the place youngsters constructed snowmen and vacationers posed for selfies.
But it proved a significant headache for the 16 million residents of Turkey’s largest metropolis, the place vehicles ploughed into one another skidding down steep, sleet-covered streets and highways changed into parking tons.
The Istanbul governor’s workplace warned drivers they’d not be capable to enter the town from Thrace — a area stretching throughout the European a part of Turkey to its western border with Bulgaria and Greece.
Shopping malls closed early, meals supply providers shut down and the town’s iconic “simit” bagel stalls stood empty as a result of suppliers couldn’t get by the snow.
The storm blocked roads throughout central and southeastern Turkey earlier than crossing into neighbouring Syria, the place it piled extra distress on the war-scarred nation’s northern refugee camps.
Istanbul Airport serviced greater than 37 million passengers final yr, turning into one of many world’s most vital air hubs.
But critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had lengthy questioned his determination to position the airport on a distant patch alongside the Black Sea coast that’s usually coated with fog in winter.
“Due to adverse conditions, all flights have been temporarily stopped for air safety,” the airport mentioned in a press release, posting footage on Twitter of yellow snowploughs circling stranded plane.
The airport prolonged its suspension twice, saying late Monday that service wouldn’t resume earlier than 4:00 am (0100 GMT) Tuesday.
‘Everything is frozen’
Most of Turkey’s principal establishments stayed open.
But in Greece, the place in a single day temperatures plummeted to -14 levels Celsius (6.8 levels Fahrenheit), the storm suspended a session of parliament and compelled colleges and vaccination centres to shut in Athens.
Hundreds of motorists have been trapped in vehicles across the capital — lots of them venting their anger on TV stations — regardless of makes an attempt by police to seal off motorway entry factors to the north of the town.
“My wife has had nothing to eat since morning. We had a small bottle of water between us,” one driver who recognized himself solely as Christos instructed non-public Star TV.
“Everything is frozen stiff.”
The military, firefighters and police started work to free the stranded motorists within the early night.
Greece’s local weather disaster and civil safety minister Christos Stylianides apologised for the chaos and blamed the corporate managing the motorway for not preserving it open.
A chilly snap with sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds final hit Athens in February 2021, killing 4 folks on the islands of Evia and Crete and leaving tens of 1000’s of households with out electrical energy for days.
Kostas Lagouvardos, analysis director on the National Observatory of Athens, instructed ANT1 TV that the capital had not seen back-to-back winters like this since 1968.
The snow uncharacteristically fell on a number of Aegean Sea islands, isolating some mountain villages on Andros, Naxos and Tinos, and overlaying seashores in Mykonos, in summer time a celebration island.
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