A tourist to a city in Greece has a football to thank after surviving 18 hours at sea by clinging to the half-emptied piece of sports equipment.
The 30-year-old tourist, named only as Ivan, was enjoying some time at the beach in Kassandra, Greece, when a strong current swept him out to sea, local media reports.
When he went into operation, his friends tried to alert the Coast Guard, but it was too late – they could not find him.
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Luckily for Ivan, who was visiting from Northern Macedonia, he was rescued when he spotted a small football hovering towards him and was able to hold on.
He spent 18 hours at sea before rescuers pulled him out of the water on Sunday, the Serbian news site, Telegraf reports.
Amazingly, the ball that Ivan used to survive has been traced to a couple of Greek children who had played with the ball 10 days earlier on the Greek island of Lemnos. The children lost the ball when it ended up in the sea and was swept away by the tide.
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What’s even more amazing is that the ball bounced nearly 130 miles in the time before it collided with a desperate Ivan.
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According to the Romanian media Stiridiaspora, Ivan was spotted by a Greek Air Force helicopter looking for him and another friend who is still missing.
Kassandra’s mayor, Anastasia Chalkia, shared a photo posing with the ball alongside Ivan’s father outside a hospital.
She also visited a healthy Ivan in the hospital.
“I had constant information about the rescue process and am very happy with the smooth ending to the young man’s adventure,” she wrote in a translated post.
She wrote that rescuers continue to search for the other missing man, Martin Jovanovski.
According to the Telegraph, Martin’s brother, Goran, will arrive in Greece on Friday to help search for his missing brother. Goran told the business that he “will move the earth and the sky” to find his brother and “will mobilize all that is necessary.”
Several vessels from the Greek Coast Guard, a helicopter as well as a land vehicle and local volunteers are participating in the search.
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