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Wednesday 26 September 2018

Irish friends escape death after killer quake on Kos

The badly damaged White Corner Club bar where two tourists died
The badly damaged White Corner Club bar where two tourists died
Irish pals (from left) James McElvaney, Paddy Leonard, Lorcan Grey and David Thomson

Four friends from Dublin are counting their blessings after surviving the Kos earthquake.

The pals had been frequenting the bar in which two men died, but they decided to stay in their hotel that night.

The 6.7-magnitude quake, centred 12km north-east of the Greek holiday isle and near the Turkish coast, caused a wall at the White Corner Club bar to collapse, killing two tourists, Turkish national Sinan Kurdoglu (39) and an unnamed 27-year-old Swedish man.

Two more Swedes, one said to have lost his legs, one Norwegian, a Greek man and a Greek woman were seriously injured in the bar collapse and were flown to a hospital in Crete by emergency services.

The quake struck at 1.31am yesterday - a time when pals Paddy Leonard (27), Lorcan Grey (25), David Thomson (26) and James McElvaney (26) would normally have been partying along with hundreds of others in the bar, housed in a renovated building dating to the 1930s, in the old town of Kos.

Surreal

The four said they were lucky to be alive because they had made the pub their local, but decided to stay in their hotel on Thursday night.

"It was the one night we decided not to go out. We're just kind of blessed," said Mr Leonard.

"It was just so surreal. It's the last thing you expect on holiday, but thankfully we're all OK, we're all alive.

"The whole hotel building was shaking and waves were coming out of the pool."

He said there was panic in the aftermath of the quake, with many buildings in the city centre collapsing.

"It was mad. We're all in a bit of shock," he said.

The quake shook holiday resorts in Greece and Turkey and injured nearly 500 people.

Some of the injuries were caused as tourists and local residents scrambled out of buildings and even leapt from balconies after the first jolts came.

Authorities on Kos said a total of 13 injured people were airlifted to other Greek hospitals.

In Turkey, authorities said 350 people suffered light in- juries as they fled buildings.

Seismologists said the shallow depth of the quake was to blame for the damage, and a 60cm sea swell that scattered cars and boats across shorelines in the east Aegean Sea.

Turkey sent a vessel to Kos to take 200 Turkish tourists home.

The quake damaged churches, an old mosque and Kos port's 14th century castle, along with old buildings in the town, but the damage was relatively limited.

Mayor Giorgos Kyritsis said strict building codes have been in force for decades following a deadly earthquake in 1933 that flattened the island's main town.

The quake caused cracks on walls of some buildings in the Turkish resort of Bodrum, flooded the lower floors of sea-front hotels and restaurants and sent moored boats crashing towards the shore.

It was reported that huge crowds were seen at Kos International Airport as holidaymakers attempted to leave the island.

Experts said last night that 29 tremors have hit the region.

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