Jan 25, 2022: According to a report by Al Jazeera, Turkish authorities sent troops to clear highways and ordered military helicopters to take the sick to hospitals, as Istanbul was covered in unusually heavy snowfall.
A temporary ban on motorcycles and private vehicles was imposed on Tuesday morning after snowfall last night. Schools and shopping centers were also closed as people were urged to stay indoors amid further freezing weather warnings in the coming days.
“The main issue is that our citizens not go outside as much as they can in these stormy conditions,” said Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu. “We have areas where the snow has reached 80 centimetres, and in most of the city the snow range has been 30 – 50 centimetres,” Imamoglu added.
Istanbul’s main roads, including the northern highway connecting to the main international airport, the E-5 highway running east-west of the city, and routes to the capital, Ankara, were closed overnight.
Authorities said thousands of motorbikes were stranded on the highways, with snowfall increasing the rush hour as passengers were returning home. The governor of Istanbul said that 71 mosques have been opened in the city to shelter people stranded on the streets.
Adil Karaismailoglu, minister of transport and infrastructure, said, “We have gone through a very tough night, and unfortunately, because of heavy snow and cold weather, people were stuck on highways,”
He added that many cars had been abandoned by drivers on highways and work was being done to clear them.
Bad weather on Monday also signaled the suspension of flights from the city’s airport, one of the busiest in the world, as authorities tried to clear runways to bring hundreds of stranded flights back on schedule. While one runway was later reopened to handle flights that had been diverted due to snowfall, Turkish Airlines said its flights would not resume until at least midnight on Tuesday.
Although Monday night’s snowfall took the airport by surprise, rapid runways and land transport left scores of passengers stranded inside the planes, in buses, aiming to keep them out of the traffic gates. At the same time, the main terminal was to be connected from inside the building. Thousands of passengers spent the night at the terminal, and airport officials distributed cardboard sheets and sandwiches to them on Tuesday.
The roof of a large cargo terminal collapsed in the snow, while road access to the airport, which relies on open and completely shuttle buses and taxis without any public transport links, was cut off Monday night.
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