Greek leaders react to fire at historical Balıklı Greek Hospital in Istanbul

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Some 104 nursing home patients and personnel have been evacuated from the Balıklı Greek Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the hospital on Thursday afternoon to contain the fire, whose origin is currently under investigation. While the fire was controlled by noon, the building suffered serious damage, with the roof being completely destroyed.

The historic structure was founded in 1753 and continues to be used by the city’s Greek community as a nursing home.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has reacted to news of the fire, saying in a statement “our diaspora has suffered a serious blow”.

“One of the most important charities, where our older brothers and sisters found compassion and warmth, was damaged in a catastrophic fire,” he said.

“We thank the Almighty Lord that there were no casualties, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the state and municipal authorities, as well as firefighters, nursing home and hospital workers, and all those who volunteered to put out the fire and save the nursing home residents.”

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America has this morning also expressed his grief, writing in a tweet: “Our Church is shaken by the catastrophe caused by the devastating fire to the Balıklı Greek Hospital in Istanbul.”

Adding that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Greek American community will “contribute in any way” to “mitigate the material damages.”

Archbishop Elpidophoros is set to visit Istanbul for the third Centennial Pilgrimage, which begins this Monday and has promised to visit the hospital.

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