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Turks celebrate extended Eid al-Fitr with joy, reunions and traffic gridlock

 Amidst the joyous celebrations of the extended Eid al-Fitr in Türkiye, many experienced the bittersweet dance with traffic congestion as they embarked on journeys to reunite in distant cities or sought solace in popular holiday destinations.

Millions of Turks embarked on journeys on April 6-14, leading to seat shortages on flights, buses, and high-speed trains due to overwhelming demands.

The dense crowds on the roads led to traffic congestion, even on intercity highways, resulting in numerous traffic accidents.

On April 7, Oytun Tunc, accompanied by her wife and daughter, set out on a car journey from Istanbul to Ankara, a trip that typically lasts four to five hours, to visit her sister. However, the Tunc family faced prolonged traffic congestion near the northwestern city of Bolu, caused by a road accident and heavy traffic.

“Growing weary of the prolonged wait, we decided to stay overnight at a hotel in Bolu,” Tunc told Xinhua. “By early morning, the traffic had subsided, so we could resume our journey,” he added, noting that ultimately, it took nearly 24 hours for them to reunite with their cherished loved ones.

Long queues of vehicles formed at the entrances of sought-after holiday spots such as Bodrum and Marmaris along the Aegean Sea. Dilek San, a Marmaris resident, told Xinhua that the town’s markets were getting short of water and bread.

Anticipating heavy traffic during the holiday’s final two days, numerous citizens opted for shorter vacations and began their return journeys as early as Thursday.

Murat Ertek and his family, hailing from the western province of Izmir en route to Ankara, shortened their vacation, wary of potential weekend traffic. “Though the roads were empty, we encountered numerous police checkpoints and rigorous inspections,” Ertek told Xinhua.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya issued daily reminders on social media urging caution while driving in traffic. On Friday, he said on X that 48 fatalities had been recorded in traffic accidents nationwide since the start of the holiday, with over 6,000 individuals injured.

Meanwhile, Istanbul residents who opted to remain in the megacity for a peaceful holiday were met with bustling streets instead. Taking advantage of the authorities’ offer of free public transportation during the holiday, many people flooded the streets to enjoy the lovely weather.

Several videos and photos circulating on X showed the vast crowds gathered at numerous renowned spots, particularly along the scenic shores of the Bosphorus Strait.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr, signalling the end of the month-long Ramadan fasting period, began this year on April 10. Turkish authorities earlier declared a nine-day holiday extension, in a bid to stimulate domestic tourism. ■

Famagusta Gazette