Normality returns after snow, cold

Large parts of the Greater Athens area were without water for many hours or even days over the weekend following the heavy snowfall of Thursday and Friday. The Athens water and sewage company, EYDAP, said that from 5 p.m. yesterday service would begin to be restored and it blamed the problems on a doubling of consumption over the weekend. Vasso Papandreou, the minister of environment and public works, blamed the shortage on broken pipes in buildings and people using water to hose down their balconies, sidewalks and cars to clear them of snow. EYDAP said that consumption, which was usually one million cubic meters per day at this time of year, had shot up to 2.1 million on Saturday. The opposition conservative New Democracy party and Communist Party disputed the reasons for the shortages, claiming that EYDAP’s network was faulty and losing water and it was not consumers who were to blame. Many homes, however, had problems with pipes breaking because of temperatures that stayed below freezing for about two days. As the weather warmed and winds dropped, transportation across the country returned to normal. Some problems remained in parts of Attica and in the mountainous parts of Crete in the south. But Athens International Airport, which is located in Attica’s Mesogeia plain, was particularly hard hit by the blizzard and continued to have problems yesterday. There was still much snow on the aprons and along the sides of the runways. A Cyprus Airlines Boeing 737, with 123 passengers and 12 crew members aboard, suffered damage to one of its engines when it hit a pile of snow piled up next to the runway as it landed. No one was hurt. The Civil Aviation Service was reported to be seeking a fine of 3 million euros from the operators of the airport because they had announced on Friday that the airport was functioning, leading to confusion and hardship for hundreds of passengers whose flights were cancelled because the airport was not able to handle them. Airport officials, however, told the Athens News Agency last night that they had not been notified of any fine.