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Admiral Shlomo Erel must have been a very proud man when he walked into the Kefalos theater in the town of Argostoli , the capital of the Ionian island of Kefalonia, on Aug 17, 2003. A former commander in the Israeli Navy, Admiral Erel was in Argostoli to participate in a ceremony to honor the nations who carried out rescue missions during the series of earthquakes that devastated Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos in 1953. The Admiral was the first person to come to the rescue of Argostoli.
On August 12, 1953, Admiral Shlomo Erel was commanding a fleet of four ships, belonging to the Navy of the newly-founded State of Israel, when he received an SOS from Kefalonia . Under his orders, the fleet immediately changed course for Argostoli. When the fleet arrived there, they found the capital city devastated by the earthquakes and in total ruins. The painful cries for help could still be heard from under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
Admiral Erel promptly organized a rescue mission, splitting up his crew into several rescue and first-aid teams, and also supplying stretchers, medicine and water. Many people trapped inside the rubble were saved by the Israeli sailors while the injured were either treated aboard the ships or were ferried to the city of Patras, on the Greek mainland.
And 50 years later, two Israeli naval ships rode at anchor in the Bay of Argostoli, while the ceremony to pay homage to international solidarity was proceeding at the Kefalos Theater in Argostoli. The representatives of the nations who had helped in the rescue also included US ambassador Thomas Miller and diplomats from the French, Italian, Russian and Swedish Embassies.