Thousands stranded, evacuated as Greece, Turkey hit by rare snowstorm

Athens, Jan 26 (EFE).- A rare and severe snowstorm has swept across parts of Greece and Turkey, leaving motorists stranded on motorways and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

Storm Elpida hit Greece on Monday, covering Athens in snow in a rare event, with overnight temperatures plummeting to -14 degrees Celsius.

Over 3,000 people on Monday were trapped in their cars on a motorway near the Greek capital, some for over 12 hours.

Parts of Athens were also hit by a power cut, leaving 200,000 homes without electricity.

Some 3,000 homes in the northern suburbs of Athens were still waiting for power to be restored.

Greek authorities declared Tuesday a public holiday, closing down schools, non-essential businesses and shutting down air traffic operations.

On Wednesday, public transport and air travel were partially restored even though roads in northern Athens remain inaccessible.

Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday the state’s management of the storm was “unsuccessful” and offered his sincere apologies to the motorists stranded on the Attiki Odos motorway.

Attiki Odos, the motorway operator, announced all motorists who were trapped would receive 2,000 euros compensation after its CEO Bill M. Halkias resigned over the chaos.

Meanwhile, flights in Istanbul were also suspended, while over 4,000 people were left stranded on roads across Turkey after snowfall began late last week and has been picking up in recent days.

The city of Antalya, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast known for its beach resorts, saw its first snowfall in 29 years. EFE


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