Holidaymaker swept out to sea in Greece survives for 18 hours by clinging onto kids’ beach ball

Half-inflated toy was lost by two boys playing on beach 10 days earlier

Aisha Rimi
Thursday 14 July 2022 15:34 BST
Ivan (r), who went missing off the coast of Myti beach, with his father (l) and the mayor of Kassandra, Anastasia Chalkia
Ivan (r), who went missing off the coast of Myti beach, with his father (l) and the mayor of Kassandra, Anastasia Chalkia (@anastasiahalkia.d/Newsflash)

A man has been rescued in Greece after surviving 18 hours adrift at sea by clinging on to a small inflatable beach ball.

The tourist, known as Ivan, 30, was one of three men swept out to sea by the powerful currents off the coast of Myti Beach in Kassandra, Greece.

Friends raised the alarm with the Greek coastguard after he disappeared, but Ivan was declared lost at sea when they were unable to find him.

Astonishingly, the holidaymaker from North Macedonia was able to stay afloat thanks to a small ball that drifted towards him.

He clung onto the ball for the next 18 hours until a Greek Air Force helicopter spotted him. Ivan was pulled from the water on 10 July, still clutching onto the ball that had helped save his life.

The ball belonged to brothers Tryphon, 11, and Thanos, six, who had lost their toy 10 days earlier while playing on Evgatis beach on Lemnos island, when it was swept away by tides.

Luckily for Ivan, the ball was pulled by sea currents into his path, some 80 miles away from the island.

He later told local media that the ball, although only half-inflated, was the reason he survived.

The two boys’ mother spotted the story on Greek television and came forward after recognising her sons’ toy.

A picture of the mayor of Kassandria, Anastasia Chalkia, posing with the ball alongside Ivan and Ivan’s father outside a medical centre has been circulated widely by Greek media.

On Facebook, Ms Chalkia wrote: “I had constant information on the course of the rescue and am very happy about the smooth ending of the young man’s adventure. Investigations continue to locate a third missing person.

“I hope the third boy will be found alive very quickly. The young man found a ball that saved his life as it helped him when he got tired.

“Thanks to the port, the EKAB [National Centres for Emergency Care] and the Kassandra Health Center, the air force, the Greek police, the fishermen’s boats of Nea Skioni, the two boats sailing in the area, all the rescue teams and the volunteers.”

As of 13 July, Ivan’s friend Martin Jovanovski, who was also swept out to sea at the same time, remains missing.

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