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Society

Hands Across the Water: Greek Volunteers Sailed to Türkiye’s Aid

February 15, 2023

MYTILENE – The massive earthquake in Türkiye  that took at least 31,643 lives saw a caesura in provocations toward Greece and saw a boat carrying a Greek team of 35 search and rescue crew members and other volunteers sent to help.

They crossed the Aegean from Lesbos, one of the five islands near Türkiye ‘s coast which is housing refugees and migrants who went to Türkiye  fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands.

They used Türkiye as a jumping-off point to get to Greece, many dying in the perilous waters of the sea, which has seen the two countries dueling over who’s responsible for the deaths and disputing its sovereignty.

All that was set aside after the earthquake struck and photos and stories emerged of how welcome the Greek EMAK rescue team was, including digging a child out of the rubble and aiding immeasurably.

The Turkish Anadolu Agency reported that, “The waters that lay at the very heart of their disputes has now become channels of brotherhood by carrying rescue teams for quake survivors.”

It said the Greek volunteers rushed “to help search for any survivors trapped in mountains of debris, sailing through a sea which has been a persistent source of maritime tensions between Ankara and Athens.”

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/quake-disaster-turns-waters-disputed-between-turkiye-greece-into-channels-of-brotherhood/2818797

“We used a boat from Mitilini port on the Lesbos (Midilli) island along with our emergency vehicles,” Kostas Tsakonas, one of the members of the Civil Protection volunteer group, told Anadolu while he was busy coordinating with other volunteers searching for survivors trapped in the wreckage.

The group had 11 women members, including a medical doctor. “When we reached (Türkiye), the first message we received was: ‘Welcome brothers’,” he said of the joyous greeting.

The volunteer group had a sniffer dog, medicine, an ambulance, seven vehicles and a huge amount of equipment and tools for search and rescue to help find survivors and worked with Turkish authorities in the crossing.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias became the first top diplomat from any European country to pay a solidarity visit to Türkiye in the wake of the disaster brought by the earthquakes, the news site noted.

He visited the southern Hatay province, where he was received by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said Türkiye and Greece should not wait for another earthquake to mend the fences.

The Greek volunteer said the situation in Kahramanmaras province, the ground zero of the twin quakes, was “terrible,” which had left many of the team members “crying” at the horror they had seen.

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