NEWS

Greece still checking tally

As Greek evacuees from a Thai resort struck by Sunday’s killer tsunami described their ordeal yesterday after returning to Athens, the Foreign Ministry said 27 Greek nationals who had been holidaying in afflicted areas of southeastern Asia are still unaccounted for. However, ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos was quick to stress that the information available was unreliable and it was still too early to revise the initial estimates that no Greeks were killed or seriously injured by the tidal waves that followed a 9.0 Richter undersea quake off Indonesia. «We are processing all the information available, which is not always fully reliable, and at this point we have reached the conclusion that there are 27 Greeks who have not contacted their friends and families,» he said. «That does not necessarily mean that 27 of our fellow citizens are, or have been, in danger.» Earlier, Koumoutsakos had said that nobody could be declared missing before 72 hours had elapsed since they last gave signs of life. The ministry also announced that four Greek tourists in Thailand had been slightly injured, one of whom was in hospital in Bangkok. By late yesterday, the overall toll from the quake and ensuing tidal waves had climbed past 55,000 deaths, and was expected to grow further. A group of 135 shaken Greeks who returned from the Phuket resort in Thailand early yesterday on a special Olympic Airlines flight described their experiences to the media in vivid colors. «It was like taking part in a movie thriller,» Myconos resident Stavros Kousathanas said. Kousathanas and his wife had been asleep in their fourth-floor hotel room when the earthquake struck. «We decided to head for the beach. Then we heard a vast roaring, and within split seconds we saw the seawater sweeping in, carrying away everything in its path. We ran up the stairs to escape. Everyone had climbed onto roofs and balconies. When the waves dropped, I went to see what was left of the beach. There were corpses and wreckage everywhere.»