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Greek Army Deployed to Rescue Thousands of Drivers in Athens

attiki odos snow greece army
Cars stuck on the Attiki Odos due to heavy snow. Credit: Christos Spirtzis/Twitter

The Greek Army has been deployed on the Attiki Odos, the major highway of Athens, in order to help free the thousands of motorists who have been stuck in their cars for hours due to heavy snow.

The mission to free the trapped drivers will take place at six specific points along the road, which is full of both motorists in their vehicles as well as cars that have been abandoned after drivers were unable to move.

Due to the extreme weather, the Greek government has announced that tomorrow, Tuesday, will be considered a holiday for workers in the private and public sectors, which means they will not have to work.

Army to help free motorists trapped on Attiki Odos due to snow

Christos Stylianidis, Greek Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, criticized the management of the road, stating during an emergency announcement on Monday that “The Attiki Odos promised to keep the road open, it failed” and that those responsible would have to answer for the events of Monday.

Sotiria Papageorgakopoulou, Head of the Athens Prosecutor’s Office, ordered an official investigation into the cause of the Attiki Odos blockage on Monday.

The investigation will determine if the company that manages the road can be charged for failing to maintain normal traffic conditions on the road during the snowstorm.

As mentioned by Stylianidis, the company claimed that it would take measures to protect drivers and maintain normal traffic conditions on the road ahead of the heavy snowfall.

For its part, the Attiki Odos authorities maintain that the issues on the road were caused by vehicles that could no longer function correctly, not by any mismanagement.

They released in a statement that the company has “35 snow plows, or exactly one for every two kilometers, and an ample supply of salt,” implying that they were prepared and are not responsible for the circumstances.

They did apologize for “the situation,” and “for the difficulties faced by drivers” stuck on the road.

Angry commuters are uploading photos and videos on social media complaining they have been stuck on the road for hours.

Among them the former minister in the SYRIZA-ANEL government, Christos Spirtzis, who tweeted:

The public transport network has almost collapsed, major roads have been closed to traffic or endlessly jammed, and motorists are trapped in their cars even in central Athens.

The major motorway Katehaki Avenue has been closed to traffic, and there are lots of problems for motorists in Mesogion Avenue in central Athens and Vouliagmenis Avenue in southern Athens.

Many drivers have been stuck in their cars for hours, with some documenting the passing hours on social media.

One user wrote “What are they waiting for? For someone with health problems who is stuck on the road to die?” when posting about someone who had been stuck on the Attiki Odos for over eight hours.

Motorists and travelers unable to reach Athens Airport due to snow

Several flights have been canceled as many passengers were unable to reach the airport. Staff and passengers are also stranded at the airport as the metro service from central Athens has been discontinued due to the snow.

Heavy snow in Athens on Monday forced authorities to shut down several streets in the northern suburbs of the Greek capital, including parts of the main Athens-Thessaloniki highway.

At the same time, trucks are not being allowed on the old Athens-Thebes national road.

The Hellenic Police on Monday advised Attica residents, and especially those in the northern suburbs, to avoid traveling unnecessarily due to the heavy snow falling in the region, as well as in other parts of the country experiencing severe weather conditions.

The second and most severe storm that is part of the new front, called “Elpis,” is still in progress throughout Greece.

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