ANTIOCH – The Greek couple that had been missing following the massive earthquake in Antioch (Antakya), Turkey, was found dead under the rubble of their apartment building on February 10.
George Antipas, 65, and his wife, Nida, 62, were members of a large and well-known family in the area. According to information conveyed by ERT reporter Giorgos Sideris, who was at the scene, the Turkish rescuers, who were searching in the wreckage of the apartment building in which the Greek couple lived, initially located the body of the man under tons of cement. A short time later, the body of his wife was also found.
Until the night before the bodies were found, George Antipas’ cell phone was ringing constantly with calls from his son-in-law.
The rescue operation to find the two Greeks in Antioch was suspended at noon on Feb. 10. The first Greek special disaster management team (EMAK), which was at the scene, decided after frantic efforts and since neither the specially trained dogs nor the searches found any sign of life, to stop its efforts.
The Greek couple lived on the fifth floor of the six-story apartment building in the center of Antioch and had signs of life from the day of the devastating earthquake, as the apartment building collapsed.
Their children and their relatives had appealed to all the relevant agencies to start the procedures to locate them. George Antipas is Greek and his wife comes from Syria.
Before the tragic news, the couple’s daughter had spoken to the Greek channel STAR about her 65-year-old father, and her 62-year-old mother. “I have no news about my parents. Nothing. I am in Constantinople now. I came from Dubai because I live there. I keep trying to call people and find out about my parents, but nothing. The last time I spoke to them was before the earthquake. After the earthquake, no. I got the Greek authorities from the first moment. I have called many times and every time they say ‘we will look for them and do whatever it takes,’ but they do nothing. They don’t call us, we call them,” said Rita and her voice broke, describing the tragic moments.
The initial information, however, said the couple was estimated to be trapped several meters below the top of the debris, according to ERT’s reporter Sideris, who was right beside the Greek rescue team.
“For us, the fact that they are Greeks signifies something very important and we must, for symbolic reasons, carry out a search and rescue operation,” said the representative of the Fire Brigade, Yiannis Artophios, speaking to ERT.
Professor Efthymis Lekkas spoke early on with the Greek channel Sky about the couple missing in the earthquake-stricken area, noting that they could not be located, as they did not have their exact location at that time.
“Those blocks (where they lived) have completely collapsed and we can’t find streets, numbers, etc.” said Lekkas. For the heroism of the EMAK team, the professor said that “the rescuers were in danger many times and they deserve all the congratulations.”
Five days after the two deadly earthquakes, those trapped in the ruins of the buildings number 80,000 and the number of dead – as the hours pass and hopes of finding survivors fade – will unfortunately reach and exceed 50,000.