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Snowstorms hit eastern Mediterranean, reach Libya




Greece called on the armed forces on Wednesday to help repair the widespread damage caused by heavy snowfall in Athens, as blizzards continued to wreak havoc in neighboring Turkey and snow reached Libya.

The Athens snowstorm, described by authorities as the most severe in 20 years, blanketed the city and its ancient monuments on Tuesday and left parts of the capital without electricity and water.

Members of the armed forces, including the Marines, used cranes and chainsaws to help fire crews clear hundreds of downed trees that damaged the power grid and blocked roads.

More than 800 fallen trees in greater Athens have struck power lines, and hundreds more have been reported in neighboring areas, including the island of Euboea, off the mainland’s south-eastern coast.

The main challenge now is to restore the electricity supply to homes. The storm caused problems across the country, civil protection chief Nikos Hardalias said, the Associated Press reported.

In Evia alone, 500 damaged electricity poles and pylons have been replaced. The army and civilian agency crews worked through the night and continue to work now.

Weather conditions improved in Greece on Wednesday but continued to cause serious problems in eastern Turkey, where blizzards continued to sweep through northern parts of the country as the cold front crossed the eastern Mediterranean.

Snow reached an area in northeastern Libya for the first time in 15 years, and a snowstorm caused road closures in northern Syria.

In Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, icy roads have caused many car crashes, and authorities have said as much as 50 centimeters (about 20 inches) of snow has accumulated in high-altitude areas of the metropolis.

Elsewhere in Turkey, 22 people were injured after a passenger bus slipped off a highway in central Aksaray province and overturned, the state agency Anadolu reported.

Heavy snowfall has also closed highways and access to dozens of villages in eastern Turkey and closed recently reopened schools due to pandemic restrictions.

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