Snowstorm strands thousands in Istanbul
Rescue crews have forged ahead with efforts to clear major throughways in and around Istanbul that were clogged by a massive snow storm that hit the megacity and left countless people and vehicles stranded overnight in below-freezing conditions.
Roads in the city came to a standstill on Monday after the storm pounded Istanbul, a city of 16 million people that straddles the European and Asian continents, accumulating almost 80 centimetres of snow in some areas.
Stranded motorists either spent the night in cars, abandoned their vehicles to walk home or crowded metros and other public transportation. A lucky few were rescued and taken to hotels.
The city's Disaster Co-ordination Centre, or AKOM, says an Icelandic low-pressure system is behind the cold front and precipitation affecting most of the country.
The storm also caused havoc in neighbouring Greece, snarling traffic in Athens and putting most public transport out of action.
Flurries are forecast to continue through to Wednesday.
Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said more heavy snowfall was likely on Tuesday evening.
AKOM teams and other units worked overnight to clear snowy roads and highways but abandoned vehicles hampered their operations.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya urged motorists to return to their vehicles and move them.
A flight suspension in and out of Istanbul Airport on Monday was extended over safety concerns, while the governor's office banned the use of private cars until the same time.
Istanbul's second airport, Sabiha Gokcen, was operating limited services.
AKOM manager Selcuk Tutuncu told the AP that 40,000 tonnes of salt have been used since the beginning of the storm.
"Right now there are over 1500 vehicles and over 7000 personnel working out in the field nonstop," Mr Tutuncu said.
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