Published on : Thursday, February 18, 2021
Nearly 3 people were declared dead as a rare kind of massive snowstorm struck Greece for the first time in the last 10 years as temperatures dropped as low as -19 degrees Celsius and parts of the capital were left without power supplies due to damage by fallen trees. The Parthenon was also found coated in snow for the first in a decade. The snowstorm also prompted the government to delay the country’s COVID-10 vaccination drive as citizens were advised to stay at home due to the extreme weather conditions.
As the cold and storm wrecked havoc across the country, inoculation centres including mega facilities that were capable of vaccinating nearly 20,000 people a day were ordered to close down. According to reports, two men died after their mechanical respiratory aids stopped working during one of the power cuts. The other reported death was of a farmer who was found in a snow-covered farm in Crete. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis immediately urged people to take great care in all movement and urged citizens to avoid unnecessary movements after meeting with emergency workers. He said that everyone will show patience as they deal with a truly unprecedented phenomenon.
Greek Fire Service spokesman Vassilis Vathrakoyiannis said in a press statement that particularly high demand was noticed in greater Athens and the calls concerned downed trees and transporting people stuck in their vehicles to a safe place. He also mentioned that though vaccinations have been postponed, the department has helped transport doctors and medical staff where needed, and helped power technicians get to damaged electricity pylons in areas where access was difficult. Greek meteorologist Costas Lagouvardos added that so much of snow in the center of Athens was last seen in February 2008. Greek citizens also took to social media to share sights of the snow, a rarity in the cities.
Power shortages and water supply cuts caused by uprooted trees were reported in central Greece and in multiple municipalities across the capital, where most Greeks live. More than 400 men, women and children, forced to endure the freezing temperatures in tents in a refugee camp close to the city centre, were relocated to another installation. The cold front arrived in Greece after causing heavy snowfall in Northern Europe. The recent cold weather is likely caused by changes to the Arctic polar vortex, according to reports.