Istanbul recovering from powerful snowstorm
Daily life is slowly returning to normal in Istanbul, a city with a population of more than 15 million people, after being hit by a strong snowstorm, not seen in many years, but bad weather is still battering other parts of the country.
During the snowstorm, thousands of people and vehicles were stranded on the roads, public transport was severely disrupted, commuters were not able to reach their homes and flights were cancelled.
As of Jan. 26, most of the major roads and highways in the city were open again and flights at Istanbul Airport, one of the largest in the world, largely resumed.
Hundreds of flights from and to the airport were scheduled, but Turkish Airlines officials cautioned travelers to check flight information before arriving at Istanbul Airport.
However, on some roads, the abandoned vehicles were still causing traffic jams, prompting city officials to call on motorists to remove their cars to ease the congestion.
The situation was still particularly dire in the Hadımköy quarter of the Esenyurt district on the city’s European side.
Some commuters were stuck in their vehicles in Hadımköy for up to 40 hours, private broadcaster CNN Türk reported.
When the traffic came to a complete halt in this location, many people walked out of their cars, abandoning vehicles on the road.
Ali Yerlikaya, the city’s governor, said that during the snowstorm more than 5,000 people who were stranded on the roads were evacuated across the city and nearly 3,200 people had to be accommodated in hotels and dormitories to spend the night.
Yerlikaya also warned that the abandoned cars would be towed unless their owners come and pick them up.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu also arrived in Istanbul shortly after the bad weather gripped the city to coordinate the relief efforts.
Snowfall in Istanbul is expected to continue until Thursday afternoon with spells but won’t be as strong as the previous days, Professor Şen, a meteorologist told, CNN Türk.
Many public transport buses, are not equipped with winter tires which contributed to the havoc on the roads in Istanbul, said Professor Mustafa Ilıcalı, who once worked at the municipality’s transport department, adding that private cars should have been banned from traffic earlier.
Meanwhile, authorities have issued warnings for the country’s 32 provinces with snowfall advisory.
Heavy snow blocked roads to hundreds of villages in the provinces of Tokat, Bitlis, Samsun, Zonguldak, and Bingöl and many others.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said yesterday that more than 9,000 people across the country, who were stranded on the roads, had been moved to safety.
In 22 provinces, nearly 23,000 people were accommodated in different facilities, including dormitories, the authority said.