This issue of “The Foreigner” goes to press in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy of the sinking of the Samina Express. The ferry hit the “Portes” rocks on the way into Paros Harbour on the night of Tuesday, 26th September. It is the worst ferry accident in Greece since 1965, with over seventy people already confirmed dead and divers still searching the wreck for those who have been reported missing.
All of us who live here have been touched in some way by the disaster. The sense of grief and loss is palpable everywhere. Funerals and church services are taking place all over the island. The entire local community is reeling from shock and disbelief. Amongst those we grieve are Theodoris Kaparos and his young son, Manolis, from Marmara. We offer our condolences to Theodoris’ wife, Angeliki, who was one of the over four hundred survivors, though at a time like this, words are hopelessly inadequate. We at “The Foreigner” remember Theodoris as a supporter since our inception.
Through the tragedy, however, we have witnessed over the past few days many acts of courage and kindness. It began with the bravery of the Parian fishermen, risking their lives in wild and stormy seas to rescue the passengers. It continued with the generosity of the Parian people and the tireless efforts of local Greeks and foreign residents working side by side to help the survivors. Medical services (there were twelve doctors and specialists working through the night at the Health Centre), clothes, food, money, shelter, comfort - whatever was needed was offered. Anyone who could provide anything at all was looking for an opportunity to help - from the use of their telephone to contact relatives, and the provision of blankets, hot tea, food and clothing at the Health Centre, to helping foreign survivors contact their embassies and orient themselves to return home or continue travelling. So many people were offering to be of assistance that many were turned away by authorities unable to immediately recognize how they might utilize such an overwhelming number of willing volunteers.
Despite the moving community spirit we have experienced, however, it will be some time before our island comes to terms with the magnitude of our loss.
Although we obviously hope never to see a tragedy such as this occur again on Paros, still, on a small scale, personal tragedies happen often during the summer months - typically tourists involved in accidents who are in need of someone to act as a support and liaison person to help them get home. So, please consider adding your name to the list of volunteers at the Paros Health Centre for this purpose. For further information or to volunteer, call 92043 or 093-7964383.