by Compiled from Wire Services
Dec 15, 2016 12:00 am
Turkey is gripped with cold weather and snowfall this week, which has particularly affected the northern, eastern and central regions. Access to thousands of villages and neighborhoods in the remote parts of these regions remain closed as blizzards and thick snow blocked the roads yesterday and Monday.
Schools were closed in dozens of provinces from Sakarya in the northwest to Tunceli in eastern Turkey.
Although it was not affected directly from the snowfall, Antalya, a year-round warm vacation resort in the south, was also hit as a road connecting it to central city of Konya was closed for hours due to heavy precipitation. Motorists stranded on the road located on higher ground were rescued by crews.
Snow clearing crews were deployed across the country, working around the clock to keep the roads open though access to remote villages remains a challenge as thick snow accompanied by blizzards hampers the efforts.
Several flights were canceled in eastern cities while Turkish Airlines announced two flights, from Trabzon and Ordu in the north to Istanbul's Atatürk airport, were canceled for today.
Bad weather also forces people to take alternative routes to reach their destination at the cost of their time. For Altan Gülbin, a cancer patient in the northeastern province of Artvin, it took a trip to Georgia and back to Turkey to reach a hospital near his hometown. Gülbin is the headman of a village whose road usually remains closed for about six months every year due to heavy snow. When his health worsened overnight, Gülbin's relatives took him to a nearby clinic where doctors instructed them to take him to a better-equipped hospital. The only hospital available was the one in Hopa, a district on the border with Georgia but access to the district from the village was impossible due to road closure. Gülbin's family contacted authorities and they suggested them to take Gülbin to the Georgian territories from an alternate route not affected by snowfall. After two hours of walking, the patient arrived in a Georgian village on the border after Georgian authorities accepted plea from the Turkish side to receive the patient. From there, in the company of parademics, Gülbin was taken to the hospital on the Turkish side by an ambulance. Gülbin is grateful for the permission but this is not the first time he used the same route. The 37-year-old man was taken to the hospital through Georgia last year as well. "Crews work tirelessly to keep the roads clear but the roads are still closed because of heavy snow. We have the same problem every winter. The only solution is building a tunnel on the road," he told Anadolu Agency, calling on authorities to construct it as soon as possible.