The closure of Europe’s most active airport grounds flights extending from the Middle East and Africa to Europe and Asia.
Europe’s most active airport shut down in Istanbul while schools and vaccination centers closed in Athens as a rare snowstorm blanketed swathes of the eastern Mediterranean region, causing blackouts and traffic havoc.
Middle East and Africa to Europe and
- The closure of Istanbul Airport, where the top of one of the cargo terminals collapsed under the heavy snow, causing no damages, grounded flights stretching from the Middle East and Africa to Europe and Asia on Monday.
Travel officials told the news agency it marked the gleaming glass-and-steel structure’s first shutdown since it replaced Istanbul’s old Ataturk Airport as the new hub for Turkish Airlines in 2019.
“Due to adverse situations, all flights at Istanbul Airport have been temporarily stopped for flight security,” the airport told in a comment on Twitter.
The shutdown dealt the main headache to the 16 million citizens of Turkey’s largest city, where cars plowed into each other skidding down steep, sleet-covered streets, and highways shifted into parking lots.
The Istanbul governor’s office alerted drivers they would not be able to enter the city from Thrace, a region stretching across the European part of Turkey to its western border with Bulgaria and Greece.
- Shopping malls closed earlier, food delivery services shut down and the city’s iconic “simit” bagel stalls stood empty because suppliers could not make their way through the snow.
Istanbul Airport serviced
Traffic officials also shut main roads across large parts of central and southeastern Turkey, a mountainous region first hit by a snowstorm last week.
But critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had long questioned his decision to place the airport on a remote patch along the Black Sea coast that is often covered with fog in the winter. Turkish Airlines told it was suspending all Istanbul Airport flights until at least 4 am (01:00 GMT) on Tuesday.
Greece, the health ministry announced
In Greece, the health ministry declared that COVID-19 vaccination centers in the wider Athens region of Attica and on the nearby island of Evia would shut at 3 pm (13:00 GMT) on Monday and would stay closed on Tuesday because of the heavy snowfall.
Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told weather conditions would continue to be “difficult” on Tuesday. Authorities warned the public to limit outdoor activities to only essential ones on Monday and Tuesday, while schools in many places were shut.
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Domestic and international flights
Oikonomou expressed more than 46,000 school classes across the country were being held online. Several domestic and international flights to Athens airport were canceled, while subway service to the airport was partially suspended as some of it runs outside the ground.
A cold snap with sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds last hit Athens in February 2021, killing four people on the islands of Evia and Crete and leaving tens of thousands of households without electricity for days.
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