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The first snow of the year has engulfed Istanbul, canceling many flights and ferry services. Lightning also hit two aircraft mid-flight during the storm.

Heavy snowfall started to fall on the night of Dec. 10 and has since led to icy roads, cold weather and thunderstorms.

Pegasus Airlines’ and Turkish Airlines’ (THY) aircraft, bound for Kharkiv and Esfahan from Istanbul respectively, were struck by lightning at around midnight, forcing them to make emergency landings.

While the THY aircraft landed at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport, the Pegasus Airlines plane returned to Sabiha Gökçen Airport on Istanbul’s Anatolian side, from where it had departed.

Despite measures taken by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the snow also snarled city traffic, and caused public transportation to halt and ferry journeys to be canceled.

The snowfall dumped up to 25 centimeters in some districts of the city, as the thunderstorm with snow continued in intervals through the night.

The municipality’s salt trucks have been trying to keep the roads as safe as possible, but accidents caused by vehicles’ sliding on icy ground hampered the operations, the Istanbul Municipality said in a written statement on Dec. 11.

Attempts to mitigate the chaos are now underway, with an 642 Metrobus vehicles and 2,340 buses added to the schedule, the statement added.

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