Heavy snowfall cripples life in Istanbul amid safety warnings

Türkiye 25 January 2022 05:48 (UTC +04:00)
Heavy snowfall cripples life in Istanbul amid safety warnings

Heavy snowfall has blanketed Istanbul as officials issued warnings on road safety, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.

All intercity bus services have been suspended until 8 a.m. on Jan. 25 while motorists were strongly advised against departing Thrace for Istanbul.

Disabled and pregnant civil servants were already put on administrative leave in the city. Public offices in Istanbul were ordered to end their shifts at 3:30 p.m. local time due to an expected increase in the snowfall in the evening and related difficulties in transportation, Governor Ali Yerlikaya announced later on Monday.

Universities were also shut down for two days. Other schools have already been closed since last week as the semester break began.

Also, civil servants in Istanbul, except for security, health and transportation services, will be allowed to be on full-time administrative leave on Tuesday.

Amid snowstorm crippling life in Istanbul, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Adil Karaismailoğlu and head of Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) Yunus Sezer headed to the metropolitan city following order of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the first hours of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, city life got a big hit due to the snow as shopping malls will shut early at 7:30 p.m. local time, 2.5 hours earlier than usual.

Traffic accidents have become increasingly more common amid the harsh winter conditions too, with 50 cars getting involved in a multiple-vehicle collision on the Northern Marmara Highway, just a day after a major accident that left three people dead and 18 wounded as a bus rolled over into a ditch in Istanbul's north.

The city's governorate had announced that e-scooters were banned from traffic for Monday while motorcycle couriers, who play a crucial role in the delivery of food and basic items during the bad weather, were also banned from traffic on Monday.

Yet, there was no major disruption to traffic in the metropolis early Monday. Main roads and streets were largely open with smooth-flowing traffic while alleys and smaller streets, especially those located on slopes, posed a challenge for drivers, who struggled to keep their vehicles on the road.

It was announced later that all Istanbul-bound traffic from Anatolia has been halted over the snowstorm. Vehicles will have to remain in neighboring provinces until further notice, Turkey’s General Directorate of Highways said.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu told reporters at the municipality's Disaster Coordination Center (AKOM) on Monday that sudden spells of snowfall were anticipated in the coming days and urged the public to be vigilant. "The flow of traffic is fine at the moment but sudden snowfall may hinder our efforts to keep roads clear," he said. Imamoğlu said the municipality's crews were on alert and routinely pouring salt on roads after clearing the snow, which reached 25 centimeters (nearly 10 inches) in depth in rural parts of the city. "We have 7,421 personnel and 1,582 vehicles to intervene in the situation," he said. The mayor also added that the municipality has taken in 1,385 homeless people at designated accommodations and delivered food to stray animals on the streets.