A tourist in a town in Greece has a soccer ball to thank after surviving 18 hours at sea clinging to half-deflated sports equipment.
The 30-year-old tourist, named only Ivan, was spending time on the beach in Kassandra, Greece, when a strong current swept him out to sea, local media report.
As he drifted away, his friends tried to alert the coast guard, but it was too late, they couldn’t find him.
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Luckily for Ivan, who was from North Macedonia, he was saved when he spotted a small soccer ball floating towards him and was able to hold on.
He spent 18 hours at sea before rescuers pulled him out of the water on Sunday, Serbian news site Telegraf reports.
Surprisingly, the ball that Ivan used to survive was attributed to two Greek children who played with the ball 10 days earlier on the Greek island of Lemnos. The children lost the ball when it ended up in the ocean and was washed away by the tides.
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What’s even more amazing is that the ball jumped nearly 130 kilometers around this time, before converging on a desperate Ivan.
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According to the Romanian media Stiridiaspora, Ivan was spotted by a Greek air force helicopter which was looking for him and another friend, still missing.
Kassandra Mayor Anastasia Chalkia shared a photo posing with the ball alongside Ivan’s father outside a hospital.
She also visited a recovering Ivan in the hospital.
“I had constant updates on how the rescue was going and I’m very happy that the young man’s adventure went smoothly,” she wrote in a translated post.
She wrote that rescuers continue to search for the other missing man, Martin Jovanovski.
According to Telegraf, Martin’s brother Goran will arrive in Greece on Friday to help search for his missing brother. Goran told the outlet that he will “move earth and sky” to find his brother and “mobilize whatever is necessary.”
Several Greek Coast Guard vessels, a helicopter, as well as a ground vehicle and local volunteers are taking part in the search.
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