Planes grounded as snow covers Greece

Athens - Flights to Athens international airport were grounded on Sunday and more than 25 Greek villages were cut off after heavy snowfalls, which disrupted traffic as far south as the island of Crete.

The snowstorm, the result of two cold fronts moving south from Russia and Scandinavia, struck Athens on Sunday, covering the Parthenon and the temple of Zeus in white. Some train and bus routes were cancelled, with snow ploughs struggling to keep main highways open.

Flights to and from Athens international airport were grounded at least until 1am on Monday because of poor visibility, which was at less than 100m.

Temperatures in Athens remained at zero degrees Celsius while around the country temperatures ranging between minus 5C and minus 15C were reported. In the northern town of Trikala fire brigade officials rescued stranded passengers after their car stalled in an isolated part of town.

"We expect the storm to start weakening from the early hours of Monday," said meteorologist Panagiotis Yannopoulos at national weather service EMY. "By tomorrow afternoon it will be over."

More than 25 villages were reported to be cut off around Greece, many on the island of Evia. Several villages were also snowed in on the Peloponnese peninsula and as far south as the island of Crete.

Traffic piled up on some highways after cars slid off the road.

Roads in various parts of the country remained closed. Heavy trucks were banned for the next 24 hours and authorities said they would close schools on Monday in various regions.


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