Twenty-five seconds were enough to change the modern history of the island of Kos. AT 8:05 a.m. on Sunday, April 23, 1933. It was St. George’s and St. Thomas’s Day, as those two major Christian holidays happened to be together this year. The island shook from one end to the other. That was when the mighty earthquake happened 6.5 Richter. Almost everything collapsed.
The tragic story of the earthquake was 178 dead in Kos alone half of whom were children, 25 were Ottomans and 5 were Jews. More than 10 people are missing. In regards to 600 were reportedly injured half of them with very serious injuries. In the city of Kos, the destruction was biblical.
Sag one meter from the port
The port pier suffered a 1 meter subsidence. Houses, infrastructure, churches and even the city hospital were destroyed. The villages Antimachia, Asfendiou, Poli, Asefti, Kefalos were completely destroyed. The houses collapsed on their foundations. The damage in Kardamena was extensive. Major disasters have also occurred in Nisiro, To Leros even in Pink but also on the Turkish coast. Even newly constructed Italian buildings were badly damaged. The town hall of Kos collapsed.
90 years ago the springs dried up
According to a publication from the newspaper “ETHNOS” of May 3, 1933 (90 years ago today) signed by envoy K. Skaltsas: “Two days before the earthquake, the springs of the island had dried up”.
Mussolini imposes martial law
The drama of the people of Kos had no end. The island had fallen into the hands of the Italians since 1912. The press of the time, such as “La NATION” and “L’Homme libre” reported that Benito Mussolini was informed of the unpleasant events and gave a relief order both to his government, the army and the Italian Red Cross. However, he also imposes martial law to deal with looting by impoverished locals. Many of them are arrested and executed on the spot. The island is immediately visited by Commander Mario Lago who personally inspects the security measures.
Italian marinades and breads of Kalymnos
Mussolini calls a meeting to help rebuild the entire Dodecanese. But until his plans are put into action, the people of the island are literally at the mercy of God and the elements of nature. According to ‘ETHNOS’, in the aftermath of the earthquake, aid arrived on the island from Kalymnos with 2,000 loaves of bread, while torrential rains gave residents a gratifying boost and destroyed makeshift camps. which had been installed by the Italian marines. The Italians take the seriously wounded to Rhodes for treatment.
Mayhem on the island
Despite the Italian government’s efforts to organize the infrastructure as quickly as possible and to provide the inhabitants with food and water for many months, chaos reigns on the island. The first responses from journalists who manage to reach a week later are shocking.
They’ve all been leveled
Everything has been leveled. Poor residents walk the streets in search of food and water. Orphans cry in the street. In the cemetery of the island, absolute mourning. Many have lost their families and loved ones. The lucky ones are forced to flee to Turkey when the conditions were not favorable 11 years after the dramatic events in Asia Minor.
Anyone who commits plunder is executed
After the initial shock, the situation spirals out of control. The Italian authorities face situations of anarchy and looting. Mussolini orders the execution of anyone caught stealing or breaking the strict laws enforced by the Italian police.
Mussolini does not want aid and fundraising
Mussolini, for reasons of prestige of greater Italy, not only refuses humanitarian aid from neighboring countries and of course also from Greece, but by his decree he considers an attempt to raise funds by the Greek communities of the islands neighbors illegal, arguing that “greater Italy can give its citizens what is good”.
The Greeks help
The demonic Greeks, however, even though they were in a bad financial situation, they help as much as they can the patriots of the islands who are in need. At the risk of their lives, inhabitants of other islands of the Cyclades and moreover are setting up a huge network of support between them, knowing that they are playing for their life letters of the crown.
Little in Piraeus
On the morning of Saturday April 29, ie 6 full days after the devastating earthquake, the Italian ship “Stabalia” which made the Dodecanese – Piraeus connection arrived in Piraeus. To everyone’s surprise, there were very few Greeks on the ship because the Italians did not allow them to leave the island en masse.
Lucky – unlucky, members of the Zorbanou family were residents of Kos. “They were specifically allowed to go to Piraeus because they had relatives who would host them,” writes “ETHNOS”. “The father of the family, Evripides Zorbanos, died in the earthquake. Evlambia’s wife and three children arrived in Piraeus, 5-year-old Alexandra, 3-year-old Kyriakos and one-year-old Maria. All the children were injured, as was Evlambia’s mother, Maria Karamouzi, who was also injured in the face”, writes “ETHNOS”, while according to the report of May 3 Kos had 15,000 inhabitants of which all 7,000 lived in the city and now 5,000 of them are homeless.
Heaven has become hell
“Kos, the homeland of the great ancient painter Apellis, was regarded before the destruction as a true dream, as a setting that framed the marvelous harmony and incomparable beauty. Fertile, healthy and rich…it was a constant reminder of the great acne that it had in ancient times, so thousands of patients flocked there to find their health in the healing springs, especially in the Asklepiion, which was filtered by the most famous healer and surgeon of modern medicine Hippocrates. last Sunday morning, everything is nothing but a black, gloomy and sad wreckage which it is impossible to approach because of the unbearable stench given off by the corpses of men and domestic animals. and private crews work day and night for the excavation and wear special masks to protect themselves from the smell. A little further and in dire straits, 5,000 earthquake victims have been rescued.”
life of martyrdom
“Their lives are martyred and pitiful. They weep and mourn for the tragic calamity that has befallen them and they worry about their fate. The subsidence and fissures of the earth that have occurred in many places frighten them more. With each vibration, they think that the ground will come off and they will end up in the sea”, reports “ETHNOS” of May 3.
She was killed on her wedding day
At another point, he states that the Italian administration estimates the damage at 100 million lire, while the locals estimate that the damage ranges from 150 million lire to half a billion.
Throughout the ruins, the press of the time recorded shocking stories. Christina Georgoudaki was killed when her wedding was to take place in the evening.
The dome has fallen, drama in the cemetery
It is also interesting to note that the Italian consulate in Piraeus received a list of 120 dead, but because it was found that the list had been compiled by an unknown Italian soldier and contained many errors “it was decided to not to announce the list of victims”. “Among the seriously injured are the Italian policeman from Kos Betoni, the tailor I. Stefanidis, while according to the newspaper “Eleftheros Anthropos” the cemetery church collapsed where 50 worshipers were. Archimandrite Filimon Fotopoulos and the three priests were saved at the last moment.
The director was killed
The sanctuary of Agia Paraskevi, the dome of Agios Nikolaos collapsed killing the headmistress of the girls’ school, Artemisa Loukidou, while the celebration chapel of Agios Georgios remained intact.
The minarets remained standing
The fact that the minarets of the island’s mosques did not collapse was emphasized with particular emphasis. The biblical catastrophe gave the Italian government the opportunity to rebuild new buildings, many of which survive today in excellent condition.