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'We are blessed' - Irish friends safe after deadly Kos earthquake thanks to one lucky decision

 

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Firefighters and rescuers try to clean a road from the stones after an earthquake on the Greek island of Kos early Friday, July 21, 2017. A powerful earthquake struck Greek islands and Turkey's Aegean coast early Friday morning, damaging buildings and a port and killing at least two people, authorities said. (Kostoday.gr via AP)

Firefighters and rescuers try to clean a road from the stones after an earthquake on the Greek island of Kos early Friday, July 21, 2017. A powerful earthquake struck Greek islands and Turkey's Aegean coast early Friday morning, damaging buildings and a port and killing at least two people, authorities said. (Kostoday.gr via AP)

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A group of friends from Dublin have shared what they called their "surreal" escape during the earthquake in Kos overnight.

Two tourists died in the powerful quake which struck off the coast of the Greek island.

The men, from Turkey and Sweden, died when the wall of a local bar, the White Corner Club, collapsed due to the tremours.

Four Irish friends holidaying in Kos have said they were "blessed" to have avoided the devastating quake as they had visited the bar, which was ultimately destroyed, every night of their holiday except for last night.

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James McElvaney , Paddy Leonad, Lorcan Grey and David Thomson

James McElvaney , Paddy Leonad, Lorcan Grey and David Thomson

James McElvaney , Paddy Leonad, Lorcan Grey and David Thomson

“The one night we decided to not go out. We’re just kind of blessed,” Paddy Leonard told Independent.ie.

Paddy (27) has been holidaying with Lorcan Grey (25), David Thomson (26) and James McElvaney (26) in the region since Saturday.

“"It was just so surreal. It's the last thing you expect on holiday but thankfully we’re all okay, we’re all alive,” Paddy said.

 

The group of friends had decided to stay in that night to prepare for an upcoming boat trip but were woken up by the earthquake and had to evacuate their hotel.

“The whole building was shaking and the waves were coming out of the pool,” he said.

He said there was complete panic in the aftermath of the earthquake with many buildings in the city centre collapsing.

“It was mad. We’re all in a bit of shook,” Paddy said.

He added that the water level had risen to the streets.

However, he compared the atmosphere in the area today to a ‘ghost town’.

Paddy and his friends are due to return to Ireland this weekend.

More than 120 people were injured when the 6.5-magnitude quake struck at about 1.30am local time on Friday.

The army was mobilised along with emergency services. The island's port was among structures that were damaged and a ferry heading there was not docking, the coastguard said.

Witnesses on Kos described the sea "swelling" after the quake caused a local tsunami.

It flooded a seafront road and parts of the main town. A boat was pushed on to the main road and several cars slammed into each other because of the rising seawater.

Kos regional government official Giorgos Halkidios said the injured included people who were underneath a building that collapsed.

Ferry services were suspended due to damage at the main port, where a 14th-century fortress and a minaret from an old mosque were also damaged.

Greek officials said the quake was 6.5-magnitude. It was centred six miles south of Bodrum, Turkey, and 10 miles east-north-east of Kos, with a depth of six miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

Turkish disaster officials said the earthquake had a magnitude of 6.3, and more than 20 aftershocks have been recorded.

Esengul Civelek, governor of Turkey's Mugla province, said there were no casualties there, according to initial assessments. She said: "There were minor injuries due to fear and panic."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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