Snow locks life in Istanbul

Snow locks life in Istanbul

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Snow locks life in Istanbul

Heavy snowfall congest traffic, as troubles were frequently exacerbated by sporadic accidents.

A giant snowstorm froze daily life as well as the streets all around the city of Istanbul yesterday, causing a traffic deadlock and blocking highways and canceling mass transportation.

While many roads – including the major arteries of city traffic – were closed due to freezing over and accidents, residents who chose to use mass transportation such as the metrobuses failed in their efforts since the vehicles were not working in the early morning hours.

Hundreds of flights were canceled and state offices were forced to close down. Busses were also unable to move in many crucial districts. Tens of thousands of citizens tried to reach their workplaces on foot.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul Branch President Oğuz Kaan Salıcı said what happened yesterday proved the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s inaptitude to deal with such emergencies.

“Was it the first snow in Istanbul ever? We have been informed by people who were living in the outskirts of the city that they were stuck in their building complexes all day long. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been ruling Istanbul for the last 17 years, and this was not the first snowstorm here. It is not enough to make sure only the Trans European Motorway [TEM] remains open,” Salıcı told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday by phone.

Salıcı also said the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s snow plows – which were supposed to be working since the early morning hours – were broken down when the snow hit the city.

Istanbul’s Disaster Coordination Center (AKOM) issued a press release on the municipality’s website yesterday saying only the İkitelli district of Istanbul was heavily affected by the snow but the rest of the city roads remained open.

However, reports said snow plows tried to keep the roads clear with many drivers struggling to complete their journeys, but the snow clearing work lasted for hours.

Some 183 domestic and international flights from Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport were canceled, stranding hundreds of passengers. Hundreds of international flight passengers were obliged to stay in the Atatürk Airport for the past two nights.

Istanbul Seabus Corporations (İDO), the firm running the high speed ferries in Istanbul and neighboring cities, also canceled some sea busses and ferries.

The extreme weather conditions led to the deaths of two Istanbul residents. One person reportedly died after slipping and falling to the ground in Fatih district and an Istanbul resident named İshak Durma fell into a shaft and died while he was taking photos in the snow with his friends in Avcılar district.