Public services, schools, offices and most businesses will remain closed for a second day on Wednesday as the state apparatus scrambles to get a grip on the havoc caused by snowstorm Elpis and meteorologists warn of a further drop in temperatures, Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing seeking to address criticism over the state’s handling of a heavy snowstorm that hit Athens on Monday and left thousands of motorists stranded in drifts of snow and homes and businesses without power, Stylianides said the shutdown would apply to the capital, as well as to Crete and the islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.
Stylianides, a former European Union commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management who took over at the newly established Ministry for the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection last September, also apologized for the state mechanism’s failures in its response to the storm. He also thanked the emergency responders who helped thousands of citizens in trouble.
On the matter of the privately run Attiki Odos highway, where at least 3,500 toll-paying motorists were trapped for hours in icy conditions, Stylianides indicated that the company which manages the Attica ring road will have to be held to account, while comparing the situation with the national highway, where problems were limited.
“Now is not the time to take stock,” the minister added, however, saying that the state mechanism is “out in the field” working to restore traffic circulation.
In the meantime, the National Observatory’s Meteo weather service has forecast temperatures dropping to -4 degrees Celsius overnight on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, with the wind chill factor making it feel much colder, at as low as -11C in northern parts of the capital.
Some scattered snow is also expected in Athens on Tuesday, though the islands of the Aegean are bracing for heavier snowfall as the storm heads east.