ATHENS — Much of Greece was paralyzed on Tuesday for a second day after heavy snowfall caused hours of travel disruptions and power cuts.
There were widespread closures in the public and private sector in the Attica region, as well as on Crete and many Aegean Sea islands. The government announced that the shutdowns will be extended to Wednesday, in order to dissuade people from unnecessary travel.
Traffic on large roads in Athens and its surrounding area was allowed only with snow chains. Meanwhile, authorities were removing fallen trees from roads where thousands of cars had been abandoned since Monday.
About 3,500 people were evacuated on Monday evening from a highway linking the city with the airport, Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides told Greek national broadcaster ERT.
On Tuesday morning, some 1,200 cars remained on the Attiki Odos highway, with many motorists stranded for hours as the road closed due to accidents. Some left their cars behind and walked to nearby train stations, while others spent the night in the cold.
Among them was doctor Giannis Nasios, who posted short videos on social media.
“It is 2022, there was snowfall, but we knew it was coming. At the moment my foot is sinking into the snow up to the knee. The situation is tragic,” he said, complaining the response of the crisis management mechanism.
Rania Kostaki, a DJ and radio producer, also posted on social media: “There are thousands of people on Attiki Odos, there is no information from officials. An ambulance earlier struggled to cross the road.” Kostaki said she had landed at the airport Monday noon, and it had taken her 16 hours to reach home.
“Nobody told us the road ahead was closed, and after a few minutes we realized we were trapped,” journalist Kostas Fouzas told local news website iefimerida.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked the management of the company operating the highway tolls to compensate people with 2,000 euros (2,260 U.S. dollars) per stranded car.
More than 200 passengers who were stranded on trains on Monday will also receive 1,000 euros as compensation, the government announced.
Travel disruptions were reported in many parts of Greece, ships remained docked at ports and several flights were cancelled, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
On Tuesday noon, some 25 municipalities in the wider area of Athens were still without electricity. Officials said that in most cases the power supply should be restored by the evening.
The cold front that began sweeping across Greece over the weekend is expected to recede on Wednesday, according to local meteorologists.