“Nobody can imagine the devastation provoked by the 6,7 magnitude earthquake in the Island of Kos. It stroke at around 1.30 a.m. on Friday night, then other 20 shocks came during the rest of the night. I was in Rhodes when it happened and I could feel it.” Father Luke Gregory is writing us. He is the Franciscan parish priest of the Custody of the Holy Land in Rhodes and Kos. He immediately went to the island in order to verify the damages and to bring some encouragement to the citizens, to the tourists and the refugees.
“We started off directly from the hospital” he writes, “where we visit some of the injured people that had been brought there. Here were hospitalized those who had minors fractures, while those who had more serious traumas had already been moved to other specialized centers all around Greece.” Among the injured at the Kos hospital there is a young tourist from the Faroe Islands, his name is Joseph. The night of the earthquake he was in a bar with some friends, when suddenly he was hit by a fragment of the wall that damaged his back. “Joseph was serene, we left him some bottles of water and some cokes. He thanked us heartily… the joy that comes from the small things!” Father Luke is telling us. There is also a Syrian pregnant woman who was brought to the hospital from the Kos refugee center, “I could speak with her in Arabic: the earthquake shocked her, but she was fine!”
The situation in Kos is pretty serious: most of the Old City is destroyed and the balance of the victims amounts to 2 dead and about 200 wounded. Also the Catholic Church was heavily damaged, as most of the statues. “These things can be repaired” the Franciscan Friar comments “we have to thank God that most of the people didn’t get hurt.”
A lot of time and great support will be needed for reconstructing the city, but the people from Kos are already working vey hard: “The fact that really impressed me was how people here, despite the destruction and the fear, rose to the challenge: they immediately went helping thousands of tourists, risking their own lives. They have to be praised for this clear love toward to God and the other: that is what I have seen on Saturday.”
The Association pro Terra Sancta is close to the people of Kos hit by this terrible earthquake. The support to Father Luke Gregory and to the Franciscan activity, as in the past years, continues in Rhodes and Kos. In this moment more than ever.