Antiochian Greeks missing in Antakya: Greek rescuers prioritise finding them

Antakya Antiochian Greek turkey earthquake

A Greek couple with dual citizenship, aged 65 and 62, are missing in Antioch (Ἀντιόχεια, Turkish: Antakya) after the deadly earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria on Monday.

Speaking to ERT, the nephew of the missing couple, Basel Menouneh, appealed for the search in the apartment building where his relatives lived to continue. He also announced that a man was pulled alive from the wreckage of the apartment building yesterday.

"The first day the earthquake happened, their son-in-law notified the Greek embassy and gave information that there are Greeks who are trapped under the ruins in Antioch. And then we waited to get some response, to get updates," said Basel.

"Since then some teams have come. Local teams were looking. They took out three, four neighbours alive on the first day. Yesterday they also took out another neighbour. He was alive too. And now we are waiting for help to see what will happen to my uncle," he stressed.

For the last 10 years the couple lived in Antioch.

"I was in contact with them 20 days ago, while after the earthquake their daughter did not manage to contact them. I also tried to contact them the same day, after the earthquake, but my uncle didn't answer. He didn't pick up the cell phone and nobody has been able to talk to them since then," the nephew said.

The daughter of the couple explained that her father is a Greek citizen and her mother has Turkish and Greek citizenship.

"My great-great-grandfather had come to Turkey from Greece and my father was born in Turkey like me. We lived in Syria for years and with the war we returned to Turkey," she said.

"My sister lives in Dubai, she called the consulate, the channels, we called everyone we could," the daughter added.

The representative of the Fire Brigade, Yiannis Artopioos, also spoke about the same issue , making it known that, in deviance from the protocols, yesterday, members of the Greek rescue teams searched with a rescue dog in the apartment building where the two Greek expatriates lived and survivors were found.

Today, as an exception, the Greek rescuers will make a request to operate at this specific point.

Meanwhile, upon the appeal of Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, to respond to the urgent needs of the parishioners, churches, and parishes in the regions of Antioch, Alexandretta, Mersin, Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia, following the devastating earthquake, the Patriarchate has formed a relief taskforce with the aim of implementing emergency response and assistance to those impacted by this great disaster.

Accordingly, those who wish to provide emergency assistance, whether monetary or in-kind contributions, may contact this relief task force, as follows:

In Lebanon:

Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery – Archimandrite George Yacoub
Address: Our Lady of Balamand Monastery, Koura, North Lebanon
Mobile: +961 3 080550
Bank Transfer:
Bank: IBL Bank S. A. L. Branch: Balamand- Lebanon
Account holder: Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East
Account number: 022 0023010220700026
IBAN: LB67005200220023010220700026
Currency: USD

Any contribution, no matter how small, can contribute to alleviating the suffering of many.

More than 21,000 people are now known to have died in Monday's earthquakes in Turkey and Syria - though the UN warns the disaster's full extent is still unclear.

Rescuers are still searching rubble for survivors, but hopes are fading more than four days since the first quake.

Tens of thousands of people have spent a freezing fourth night in makeshift shelters, after losing their homes.

Turkey's president called the quake "the disaster of the century".

The efforts of 100,000 or more rescue personnel on the ground are being hampered by logistical hurdles including vehicle shortages and devastated roads.

UN chief Antonio Guterres warned the full extent of the catastrophe was still "unfolding before our eyes", especially in Syria where a long-running civil war has devastated the country.

On Thursday, the first UN humanitarian aid crossed the border into north-western Syria through Idlib's Bab al-Hawa crossing.

The crossing is the only way UN aid can reach the region without travelling through areas controlled by Syrian government forces.

READ MORE: "The Greeks finally came at night, to help us...", write Turkish citizens on social media.

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