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Snow blankets Athens, Greek islands and Turkey's Istanbul

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Vehicles drive as a man cross a street during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Gr...
A man walks during a snowfall north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continue through Tuesday...
People walk in the middle of the street during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting G...
A man shovels a pavement during a snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is for...
A snow plow vehicle removes snow from a street in Agios Steganos, north of Athens ,on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is ...
A man shovels a pavement during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens ,on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forec...
People walk during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continu...
A woman with an umbrella walks during a snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece ...
A woman with an umbrella stands as at the background is seen the ancient Parthenon temple during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The ...
A member of the Greek Presidential guard stands at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Greek parliament during a snowfall on Monday, Jan. 24, ...
Cars drive on a high way during a snowfall, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continue t...
A member of the Greek Presidential guard wipes at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Greek parliament during a snowfall , in Athens, on M...
A pedestrian walks during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continue through Tues...
The city of Athens with the Parthenon temple atop the ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave...
A woman watch the ancient temple of Zeus covered with snow during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Gree...
The Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, is covered with snow during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 202...
A woman wearing a hat walks during a snowfall, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing t...
The city of Athens with the Parthenon temple atop the ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow , during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wa...
A man with a dog walks during a snowfall, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing temper...
People play with the snow during a snowfall, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing tem...
A woman makes a snow man during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing temperatures...
The city of Athens with the Lycabettus hill is covered with snow during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is...
The city of Athens with the Parthenon temple atop the ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave...
A man runs as other walk in front of the Acropolis hill during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece...
Tourist boats docked in the Golden Horn with Suleymaniye Mosque in the background at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's ...
Backdropped by the historical Suleymaniye mosque, a man feeds seagulls in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's...
People walk in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast to continue ove...
People walk in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast to continue ove...
A view of snow-covered Golden Horn area at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast...
Backdropped by the historical Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque, people walk in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's...
Birds sit in the snow over Golden Horn at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast ...
The ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow in Athens, Greece, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Heavy snowfall has disrupted air traffic in the Greek capita...
People walk on the snow-covered Syntagma square during snowstorm in Athens, Greece, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Heavy snowfall has disrupted air traffic in...
People walk in front of the snow-covered Hadrian's Arch during a snowfall in Athens, Greece, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Heavy snowfall has disrupted air t...

Vehicles drive as a man cross a street during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Gr...

A man walks during a snowfall north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continue through Tuesday...

People walk in the middle of the street during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting G...

A man shovels a pavement during a snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is for...

A snow plow vehicle removes snow from a street in Agios Steganos, north of Athens ,on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is ...

A man shovels a pavement during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens ,on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forec...

People walk during snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continu...

A woman with an umbrella walks during a snowfall in Agios Steganos, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece ...

A woman with an umbrella stands as at the background is seen the ancient Parthenon temple during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The ...

A member of the Greek Presidential guard stands at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Greek parliament during a snowfall on Monday, Jan. 24, ...

Cars drive on a high way during a snowfall, north of Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continue t...

A member of the Greek Presidential guard wipes at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Greek parliament during a snowfall , in Athens, on M...

A pedestrian walks during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is forecast to continue through Tues...

The city of Athens with the Parthenon temple atop the ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave...

A woman watch the ancient temple of Zeus covered with snow during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Gree...

The Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, is covered with snow during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 202...

A woman wearing a hat walks during a snowfall, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing t...

The city of Athens with the Parthenon temple atop the ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow , during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wa...

A man with a dog walks during a snowfall, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing temper...

People play with the snow during a snowfall, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing tem...

A woman makes a snow man during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-freezing temperatures...

The city of Athens with the Lycabettus hill is covered with snow during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave of bad weather hitting Greece is...

The city of Athens with the Parthenon temple atop the ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow during a snowfall, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.The wave...

A man runs as other walk in front of the Acropolis hill during a snowfall, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The wave of bad weather hitting Greece...

Tourist boats docked in the Golden Horn with Suleymaniye Mosque in the background at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's ...

Backdropped by the historical Suleymaniye mosque, a man feeds seagulls in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's...

People walk in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast to continue ove...

People walk in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast to continue ove...

A view of snow-covered Golden Horn area at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast...

Backdropped by the historical Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque, people walk in the snow at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's...

Birds sit in the snow over Golden Horn at Istanbul, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Snow blanketed most of Turkey's largest city Monday. Flurries are forecast ...

The ancient Acropolis hill is covered with snow in Athens, Greece, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Heavy snowfall has disrupted air traffic in the Greek capita...

People walk on the snow-covered Syntagma square during snowstorm in Athens, Greece, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Heavy snowfall has disrupted air traffic in...

People walk in front of the snow-covered Hadrian's Arch during a snowfall in Athens, Greece, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Heavy snowfall has disrupted air t...

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A severe snowstorm disrupted road and air traffic Monday in the Greek capital of Athens and in neighboring Turkey's largest city of Istanbul, while snow blanketed most of Turkey and Greece, including several Aegean islands.

The Greek government declared a holiday Tuesday in the greater Athens area, parts of central Greece and the islands to keep people from leaving home. Key branches of the civil service as well as food stores, gas stations and pharmacies will stay open.

“We ask citizens to avoid leaving their homes. It will be a difficult night,” Climate Change and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said. “The height of the snow is unprecedented in some areas.”

The storm snarled traffic in Athens and put most public transport out of action. Army and fire service teams were deployed late Monday to extract hundreds of motorists trapped for hours in snowed-in cars, taking them to rented hotel rooms. Some people abandoned their vehicles and walked home in the snow.

Rail transport was also affected, and state ERT TV reported that three people were lightly injured when an engine accidentally crashed into a stuck train with about 200 people on board that it had been sent to extract. The accident occurred near the town of Livadia in central Greece.

Turkish authorities in Istanbul, a metropolis of 16 million people, suspended intercity bus service and temporarily blocked travel to the city from Turkey’s Thrace region. People stranded on roads abandoned vehicles to walk home or crowded subway and other public transportation. Schools across Turkey are closed for a winter break, but universities halted classes for two days. Public offices and shopping malls closed early.

The Istanbul governor's office announced that civil servants would be allowed to stay at home Tuesday, except for those employed in security, health and transportation sectors.

“It is a difficult night,” Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu declared. He urged people not to leave their homes. Snow had reached 80-85 centimeters (31-33 inches) deep in some parts of Istanbul, he said.

Flights in and out of Istanbul Airport were suspended until 4 a.m. Tuesday. Authorities worked to clear runways and a road leading to the airport, where the roof of a facility used by Turkish Airlines’ cargo department collapsed from the weight of snow. No one was hurt.

Flurries were forecast to continue over the next few days in Istanbul and Greece.

In Greece, schools in many areas were closed. Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said more than 46,000 school classes were being held online.

The snow came down thick and fast throughout the day in central Athens, settling on the marble temples of the ancient Acropolis.

Snow chains were mandatory for cars on many roads, while trucks were banned from the main highway heading north from Athens. Nevertheless, the icy conditions and lack of snow chains on some vehicles left some drivers reported being stuck in their cars for more than five hours on the Greek capital's roads.

Power cuts occurred in parts of Athens and nearby areas as well as the island of Evia in the evening, knocking out heating systems.

Several domestic and international flights to Athens airport were canceled, while subway service to the airport was partially suspended. COVID-19 vaccination centers in the wider Athens region and Evia were closed Monday and would remain closed Tuesday.

Snow is common in the Greek mountains and in northern Greece but is less frequent in central Athens and on Aegean islands. Last year, a major snowstorm caused severe problems in the capital, knocking out power for days. Thousands of trees collapsed from the weight of the snow and ice.

In neighboring Albania on Monday, all elementary and high schools closed for three days because of cold weather. Authorities advised people to avoid driving as temperatures reached -17 C (about 1 F) in eastern Albania.

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Associated Press writers Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.