- Title: GREECE/ TURKEY: Snowstorms across Greece and Turkey
- Date: 18th February 2008
- Summary: (BN10) ISTANBUL, TURKEY (FEBRUARY 18, 2008) (REUTERS) BRIDGE OVER BOSPHORUS AND CARS ON BRIDGE UNDER HEAVY SNOW VARIOUS OF ISTANBUL'S BUSINESS DISTRICT UNDER SNOW VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET UNDER HEAVY SNOW
- Embargoed: 4th March 2008 12:00
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Weather
- Reuters ID: LVA4K4GMRU83Z3L0SMIALUKJOBMP
- Story Text: Heavy Snowstorms and subzero temperatures paralyse Greece and Turkey, shutting down transport, grounding flights, and closing shops and schools.
Authorities in Greece and Turkey have been battling for the last 24 hours to keep open roads as both countries were buried beneath a relentless snowfall.
In Athens on Monday (February 18) schools and shops were closed, public transport stopped running, and at least 150 flights were cancelled at Athens International Airport overnight. Other domestic airports in Greece which were closed overnight reopened around noon.
More than 50 villages around the country including on the islands were isolated and reported electricity cuts.
Roads and highways covered in snow and ice were closed down and authorities advised people to remain indoors as the snowfall surpassed one metre in many parts of the country.
Greeks are unaccustomed to such heavy snowfall, and many in Athens did not show up for work, leaving the city was virtually empty with the exception of stunned tourists taking photographs.
"Well its great really. Its a surprise. It slows down moving around. Its unusual. You just take pictures. I just took a picture of a palm tree with a blue sky behind it with snow on it. That's pretty good," said British tourist Tony Johnson.
"I was a bit disappointed actually, we looked at the weather forecast in London before we left and I took out the T-shirts I had packed and put in some very thick jumpers thank goodness. Its just one of those things." said his wife Kathy.
"I am very surprised!" said Japanese tourist Mihoko Takikawa who said she was expecting warm weather.
Snow ploughs were out on roads around the country but were limited in number.
High winds that accompanied snowstorms forced ships to remain tied down, causing concerns that islands would run out of supplies.
Temperatures as low as -20 degrees celsius were recorded in some parts of Greece.
Meteorologists said the snowstorms, the result of two cold fronts moving south from Russia and Scandinavia, would begin to abate by Tuesday (February 19).
The last heavy snowfall to hit Athens was in 2002, which sprinkled snow over the Acropolis.
In Turkey heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures paralysed traffic and forced the closure of schools and universities across much of Turkey on Monday.
Hundreds of motorists were stranded around the country, some major roads were closed, thousands of villages were cut off and at least two people froze to death.
The capital Ankara has witnessed 355 traffic accidents injuring nearly 30 people, while In Istanbul, Turkey's biggest city, the bad weather caused more than 500 accidents.
The Bosphorus strait in Istanbul - the only navigable waterway between the oil-shipping ports on the Black Sea and the Aegean - was closed to transit shipping in the north-south direction since Sunday (February 17) morning, the coast guard said.
All schools and many universities in Ankara and Istanbul were expected to remain closed until Wednesday as more snow has been forecast.
Mountainous eastern Turkey was worst affected, with night temperatures plunging to minus 20 degrees Celsius, but even parts of Turkey's Mediterranean coast -- normally clement in the winter months -- experienced rare snowfall.
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