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Greek PM faces blizzard of anger as thousands stranded in Athens snow | Greece

The Greek prime minister has apologised for the state’s lack of preparedness to cope with a snowstorm that left thousands of individuals stranded in their automobiles in Athens.

The unprecedented spectacle of elite forces being referred to as in to evacuate motorists trapped in autos alongside the capital’s most important ring street left the federal government reeling as the harm was nonetheless being calculated in the wake of Monday’s storm.

With blackouts reported citywide, Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged the general public’s anger. “I wish to begin with a private and honest apology to our fellow residents who suffered for a lot of hours trapped on Attiki Odos,” he mentioned in televised feedback. “There have been errors and shortcomings which must be mounted.”

Snow covers the Acropolis in central Athens. {Photograph}: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Photos

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An estimated 4,000 drivers have been left stranded in automobiles for hours in sub-zero temperatures as the storm pounded Athens. Those that weren’t evacuated by the military sought refuge in Athens worldwide airport or struggled to stroll to their houses via the snow.

On Wednesday, scores of automobiles deserted by homeowners remained caught on the ring street whereas energy cuts in the broader Athens area affected thousands of households for a 3rd day.

Mitsotakis, echoing ministers, lay the blame for a lot of the debacle with the personal operator of the Attiki Odos motorway system, which has been criticised for permitting automobiles on to its street, however he admitted it was additionally time to spice up local weather disaster defences.

Greek soldiers remove snow in front of cars on Attiki Odos.Greek troopers take away snow in entrance of automobiles on Attiki Odos. {Photograph}: Yannis Kolesidis/EPA

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Like Turkey, additionally hit by the storm, Greece skilled devastating forest fires final 12 months with the loss of a whole bunch of houses and livestock.

“It’s true {that a} Mediterranean nation’s infrastructure will not be at all times tailored to circumstances of heavy snowfall,” mentioned the chief. “It’s equally true, nonetheless, that the state mechanism will not be but on the level of readiness that phenomena of such nice depth require.”

In a rustic of hyper-partisan media protection the place Mitsotakis’ centre-right authorities is never censured, the criticism has been not possible to disregard. Retailers have condemned the authorities’ gradual response to the blizzard, calling the chaotic scenes in an EU member state inexcusable.

People try to walk on ice in central Athens.Individuals attempt to stroll on ice in central Athens. {Photograph}: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Photos

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All non-essential companies, together with your complete public sector, have been shut down, with the federal government declaring a public vacation on Tuesday and Wednesday. Colleges are usually not anticipated to reopen till Friday after authorities introduced that snow was nonetheless blocking entry to many of the amenities.

That is the second consecutive 12 months – and solely the second time since 1968 – that Athens, extra normally accustomed to the difficulties of excessive warmth, has been pummelled by a snowstorm of such vigour. As a lot as 50cm of snow fell in 12 hours in some components of the capital. Indicative of the storm’s depth, tornadoes have been reported off islands and coastal areas, with virtually all of Athens, from the Acropolis in the traditional metropolis centre to seaside suburbs in the south-east, being blanketed white.

Meteorologists have been additionally unsparing on Wednesday in chastising the state’s response. Kostas Lagouvardos, who heads the Nationwide Observatory of Athens, mentioned the storm had been precisely predicted nicely in advance and that officers had ignored the forecasts.

“There isn’t any excuse,” he mentioned. “In contrast to 20 years in the past we’ve the instruments and strategies to precisely forecast such occasions and this was very nicely forecast. As soon as once more we’ve seen the state being reluctant to hearken to the scientists and that’s harmful after we are speaking in regards to the security of individuals and their property.”

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