'There were dead bodies floating past. It was awful'

The Survivors
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As scores of survivors from the Greek ferry disaster gathered in a cafe on the Aegean island of Paros yesterday to organise trips home, a young man was carefully checking their features.

As scores of survivors from the Greek ferry disaster gathered in a cafe on the Aegean island of Paros yesterday to organise trips home, a young man was carefully checking their features.

Yanis Rozakeas, a quiet-spoken young islander, was looking for a British man whose name he does not know, but whose face he will forever associate with that tragic night.

He - like many others - frantically scoured the rocks along the shoreline, pulling people out of the raging waters as they washed ashore from the Express Samina.

He remembers saving an Englishman, and that's about all. And now, he explains quietly, 48 hours on, he would like to meet that man.

Stories of amazing heroism and close escapes are becoming as abundant on the tiny island of Paros as whitewashed houses and narrow lanes. And yesterday there were even more stories - along with those of tragedy and terror.

Glaswegian Lisa Torrance yesterday described the "hell on earth" that began when the ferry hit an outcrop of rocks less than two miles off-shore. She was with an Australian friend. "We felt the ship lifting and we grabbed life-jackets and jumped into the water.

"We both submerged and we thought we had lost one another. We both came up and held on to each other and our life-jackets kept us afloat.

"There were dead bodies floating past us, it was awful. Then a Greek yacht full of locals came and they saved us. We are just lucky to be alive."

Emil Popper, a 34-year-old survivor, told of "total chaos" as people leapt off the sinking ship. "People were jumping off the ship. There was nothing left of the boat on the side we were holding on to and it was a question of clawing our way down the ship."

There were other local heroes, too. Four naval command-os and 17 army conscripts were returning for duty on the island of Naxos aboard the Express Samina when it ran aground.

"I was holding a small boy in my arms and he kept asking me not to let go of him. I talked to him about soccer and told him stories," said Alexandros Georgiadis, 19, one of the soldiers.

One survivor saw another soldier jumping into the stormy Aegean holding a small child. He then swam towards an elderly woman crying out for help and gave her his lifejacket. "He kept reassuring the child, 'Don't be scared, I won't let go of you,'" the survivor said.

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