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Snowstorm brings much Turkey and Greece to a standstill

Snowstorm brings much Turkey and Greece to a standstill

The ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow in Athens, Greece

A rare snowstorm brought the Greek capital Athens to a standstill on Monday.

Also, flights were grounded at Istanbul airport in Turkey.

Large areas of both countries were covered by snow, which is unusual for southern Mediterranean countries. It was also the second time it had happened in two decades.

The snow melted the roof of Istanbul’s largest air traffic hub, which caused flight cancellations from Asia, Europe and Africa.

Athens was however worse affected by the storm “Elpida”, or “Hope” in Greek. It saw overnight temperatures of -14° Celsius (6.8° Fahrenheit), forcing schools and vaccination centers to close.

The ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow in Athens, Greece

The northern mountainous regions in Greece are the best places to find snow, while Athens is rarely hit with such intense snowfalls.

Greeks are told to stay at home

To prevent people from going outside, the Greek government declared a holiday to some parts of the country.

“We ask citizens to stay in their homes. It will be difficult night,” Climate Change and Civil Protection Minister Christos Saintylianides said.

He added, “The snow is at an unprecedented height in some areas.”

Many drivers were trapped in their cars for hours, with rescue workers braving the cold to free them.

People walk in the middle of the street during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens

Some motorists in Athens were trapped in their cars for as long as five hours

Last February’s snowstorm left four people dead in Greece and cut power for thousands of residents.

Kostas Lagouvardos (research director at the National Observatory of Athens), told ANT1 TV that the capital has not experienced back-to-back colds like this since 1968.

Snow fell on many Aegean Islands, including on the beaches at popular tourist spot Mykonos.

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Extreme weather in southern Mediterranean

Due to the freezing temperatures, schools in neighboring Albania were also closed for three days.

The snow fell across Turkey, before reaching the northern region in Syria. There, thousands of refugees hid in makeshift camps, unprepared to take on the cold.

For several days, snow storms are expected to continue in Turkey and Greece.

People enjoy the snow in front of the Greek Parliament during snowstorm in Athens, Greece

Storms forced the suspension of a session at Athens’ Greek parliament.

Last summer, Greece was also hit by deadly and destructive wildfires that lasted for several days. These were attributed to climate change which increases the severity and frequency of extreme weather.

ab/rt (AFP, AP)

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