The girl, aged between four and five, was enjoying the beach with her family on the coast of the Greek town of Antirrio. She was riding on a large inflatable unicorn and floating on the shore. Her parents watched her from the sand, confident that nothing could happen because of how calm the currents were.
But the sea is the sea. It took a moment of distraction, combined with a slightly stronger breeze, for the girl to be several meters away from the shore at any moment. Her parents were desperate because they realized that she was already at a depth where it was too dangerous to swim into the water to get her out. So they asked for help.
They went to speak with the port authorities, who acted with great speed. According to The Greek City Times, they immediately contacted the captain of the “Salaminomachos”, a ferry that covers the Rio – Antirrio route, connecting northwestern Greece with the Peloponnese. The boat was sailing in the area at that precise moment.
The crew of the Salaminomachos soon spotted the girl. It was adrift in the middle of the sea, far from shore, but remarkably calm. Almost as if you are spinning in a swimming pool. Very slowly, the ferry approached the child to remove her from the water. Everything was recorded in a shocking video.
When the inflatable unicorn made contact with the ferry, there were already three crew members ready to lift the little girl and her toy boat. Minutes later, they took her to the coast, where her parents were waiting for her, who did not know how to thank the captain of the ship and his collaborators.
Antirrio is a town located in the Aetolia-Acarnania region, in Western Greece. Since 2011 it has been part of the Nafpaktia Municipality, of which it is a municipal unit. It is located on the north side of the Rio Strait, which separates the Gulf of Patras from the Gulf of Corinth.
It is not the first incident of its kind to occur in the area. The same ferry recently picked up an elderly man, who was resting on an inflatable mattress near the shore, when he was also carried away by the current. Like the girl, he was rescued totally unharmed.
Much more dramatic is what happened last year to Russian doctor Olga Kuldo, 55, in Crete. She was also resting on an inflatable bed when the sea washed her away, but there was no ferry nearby to save her.
It spent 21 hours floating in the open sea until a plane surveying the area for illegal immigrants spotted it. It was 11 kilometers from the coast. Between the cold of the night and the burns from prolonged exposure to the sun, the woman suffered serious consequences.
But it is not only in Greece that these incidents happen. In early August, something very similar happened in North Wales, in the United Kingdom. A six-year-old boy who was on an inflatable swan was also carried away by the current. It was found by a man on the shore of Black Rock Sands. He was unconscious, floating in the water, and had to be transferred to a medical plane for emergency care.