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Five Greeks on humanitarian mission in Libya killed in traffic accident

Five Greeks, members of the humanitarian mission of the Greek Armed Forces to flood-stricken Libya were killed in a traffic accident on Sunday. Another 13 people were injure with seven of them being in critical condition.

The Armed Forces declared a 3-day mourning.

The injured Greeks were transported back to Greece with a C-130 on Monday morning and were transferred to military hospital in Athens. The bodies of the 5 dead will arrive later on the day with a C-27.

Dead are reportedly three members of the Armed Forces and two civilians assisting the 16-member mission group as translators.

Two nurses and one non-commissioned officer are the members of the Armed Forces who were killed.

The humanitarian mission left Athens with a C-130 on Sunday morning and was heading to Derna, the city that was ravaged by the floods.

Video: The Greek humanitarian mission upon arrival

On the road between Bengazi and Derna, the bus transferring them collided with a vehicle carrying five Libyan nationals.

Τhe collision was reportedly frontal and the bus caught fire.

Killed were also three Libyans in the private vehicle.

According to a diplomatic source on Sunday, the Greek rescue team had 16 members plus three interpreters. They were on their way to join teams already on the ground from other countries including Turkey, France, Italy and Egypt.

Initial information on the accident was unclear and triggered an outrage among media reporters and social media users.

Both the foreign Ministry and the General Staff spoke in short statements of “slightly injured” members of the mission and thus after the news of the crash was announced by Othman Abduljaleel, health minister for the Libyan eastern government.

A few hours later, Libyan media reported of five killed Greeks. The news was republished by international news agencies worldwide, while Greek authorities in Athens kept silent.

Five hours later and short before Sunday midnight, the General Staff issued a statement speaking of three dead and two missing. The exact numbers were announced by the Defense Minister early Monday morning.

Citing military and diplomatic sources, state broadcaster ERT reported on Monday morning that it was difficult to contact the members of the mission “as the satellite mobile phones were destroyed by the fire,” and that the “Greek consul in Libya had also problems to contact the mission members.”

In a later statement, the General Staff justified its belated announcement, reportedly saying that “the initial information was based on the information provided by the Libyan authorities to the competent authorities of Greece, in which it was categorically stated that there were no victims among the members of the Greek humanitarian aid mission.”

The opposition demands clarifications on whether all security measures for the Greek humanitarian mission were met.

The two civilians killed in the accident were children of the president of the Greek community in Benghazi.

PS rumors posted on social media claim that it was not a ‘traffic accident’ but a “terror attack.” Internet users argue that one cannot drive with over 20-30km/h on a road with stones and that a collision at such a speed does not justify the total destruction of the us.

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