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Snows Storms Hit East Med, Army Called Out in Greece (Pics)

February 17, 2021

Greece called in the armed forces Wednesday to help repair widespread damage caused by heavy snowfall in Athens, while blizzards continued to cause havoc in neighboring Turkey and with the snow reaching as far as Libya. 

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

Armed forces service members, including marines, used cranes and chain saws to help fire crews clear hundreds of downed trees that damaged the electricity network and blocked roads

More than 800 fallen trees in greater Athens struck power lines, and hundreds more were reported in nearby areas including the island of Evia off the coast of the southeast mainland. 

"The main challenge now is to restore the power supply to homes. This storm caused problems around the country," Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said

"In Evia alone, 500 damaged electricity posts and pylons were replaced. The army and crews from civilian agencies worked through the night and are continuing to work now." 

Menwhile, a state of emergency was declared on Skiathos island following a request of the mayor of Skiathos town.

The island, which has an international airport, has remained without power since trees heavy with snow toppled into into high-voltage lines at Mt. Pilio, on the mainland, taking out the connections.

The state of emergency will be lifted on March 1.

Weather conditions improved in Greece Wednesday but continued to cause extensive problems to the east, in Turkey, where blizzards continued to sweep across northern parts of the country as the cold front made its way across 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 caused multiple car accidents and authorities said up to 50 centimeters (some 20 inches) of snow has accumulated in the metropolis' higher-altitude districts. 

Elsewhere in Turkey, 22 people were injured after a passenger bus slid off a highway in the central province of Aksaray and overturned, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

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

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