Vacationers survive 18 hours at the head of the sea after clinging to the children’s ball lost ten days before

Two of the three men swept away by the rough Greek currents

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A 30-year-old named only as Ivan survived 18 hours of drifting at sea after clinging to a small ball lost by two boys on a beach nearly 130 kilometers away, 10 days before.

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It began when Ivan, one of three other men, was swept out to sea by powerful currents off the coast of Kassandra in Greece. He was declared lost at sea after his friends notified Greek coastguards but were ultimately unable to locate him.

The northern Macedonian miraculously grabbed a small children’s ball floating towards him after fearing he might never be rescued. Even though the ball was running out of air, the Greek reporter said, Ivan was still able to use it to breathe and stay afloat while being pulled by the rough current.

Ivan in the hospital with Mayor Anastasia Halkia, his father and brother.
Ivan in the hospital with Mayor Anastasia Halkia, his father and brother. Photo by Mayor Anastasia Halkia / Facebook

The toy had been lost ten days earlier by Brothers Tryphon, 11 and six-year-old Thanos, who had been playing with their favorite ball on Evgatis Beach on the Greek island of Lemnos on June 30 when it was swept away by Tides, the Daily Mail reports. Tryphon and Thanos’ mother accidentally discovered the toy on Greek television and came forward.

The ball kept him afloat until currents eventually swept Ivan toward the Shores of Pilion, the southeastern part of Thessaly in northern Greece. He was spotted by a helicopter of the Greek Air Force participating in the rescue operation.

The crew immediately informed the Gibraltar-flagged cargo ship ‘Norderoog’, which was sailing off the coast of Nea Skioni, where they finally picked up Ivan from the sea. A port authority patrol boat then transported him to safety.

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Ivan was in “good physical health”, and authorities attribute his survival to the fact that he is “a particularly strong swimmer”, said Anastasia Halkia, mayor of Kassandra, to the Greek reporter.

Another man has since been found safe by the first responders while the search for the third person is ongoing. The third, a 28-year-old man who experts believe is likely to be in a difficult situation if still alive, remains missing.

According to local authorities, the place where the men dive into the sea is known to be particularly dangerous. Earlier, the local government had placed signs warning swimmers of the strong current in the area, but had since removed them.

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