The Heat Is Online

Freak Snow Snarls Southern Europe

Winter weather ravages SE Europe

The Boston Globe, Jan. 6, 2002

ATHENS - Freak winter storms paralyzed swaths of southeastern Europe yesterday, killing five and prompting Greece and Bulgaria to declare a state of emergency in some areas. The storms dumped heavy snow, blocking roads and disrupting flights for a second straight day. Turkish television reported four people froze to death. Greek police found the body of an elderly woman apparently killed by the cold in a suburb of Athens. In northern Bulgaria, a state of emergency was called in three municipalities where roads were blocked and power cuts left numerous towns and villages without electricity. (Reuters)

Rare snowstorm strikes Greece and Turkey, Jan. 4, 2002

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A storm front brought rare snowfall to the Greek capital and to Turkey's Aegean and Mediterranean coasts on Friday, disrupting some air travel and causing traffic chaos.

Northeastern parts of neighboring Bulgaria were also virtually paralyzed by more than three feet of snow. Army vehicles were dispatched to rescue stranded cars and clear the way to isolated villages.

Blizzards in northeastern Romania caused chaos, and five pregnant women were forced to give birth at home after being unable to reach hospitals. The mothers and their newborns were in good condition, health inspector Critian Irimie said.

Turkey's coastal provinces saw snow for the first time in nearly 10 years, with storms paralyzing traffic in the city of Istanbul. The Istanbul stock exchange canceled trading, and the airport temporarily suspended flights.

Japan's Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, in the country for talks with Turkish leaders, was delayed in Istanbul for about three hours before flying to the capital, Ankara.

A delegation of U.S. senators in Ankara to discuss the U.S. campaign against terrorism was forced to cancel the Istanbul leg of the trip because of the snow.

A homeless man in Istanbul froze to death overnight, authorities said.

In the Greek capital, Athens, power outages were reported in some areas. Some suburban areas were reporting 16 inches of snow on the ground, and more than 70 villages around the country were isolated by heavy snowfall.

Some early morning domestic flights from Athens airport were canceled, although the airport, located just northeast of the city, remained open.

Although snow is not uncommon in northern Greece and in the mountains of southern Greece, this was the first major snowfall in the Athens area for about a decade. The snow did not settle in the heart of the city.

In Bulgaria, access to about 100 villages was blocked. Rescue crews were trying to reach about 50 Bulgarian tourists trapped in a mountain hut north of Gabrovo, about 140 miles east of Sofia, the private Info Radio said. The group had food and heating but the hut had no water supply, the report said.

The storm was expected to ease by early next week, forecasters said.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.