Irene Kotsatourchi, the lone inhabitant of the Greek islet of Kinaros who was found safe and well on Thursday, vowed to continue living in her isolated little world in the middle of the Aegean despite all the hardships she endures.
The 74-year-old Kotsatourchi, who is also known as Kyra Rinio, or “Mrs. Rinio,” was declared missing after she failed to reply to phone calls for three consecutive days earlier in the week. A Greek Army helicopter eventually spotted her at her home on Thursday. Her “disappearance” was due to a loss of electrical power during the recent storm, which made any communication with the island impossible.
The members of the rescue team who climbed down the rope from the helicopter in hazardous conditions asked Kotsatourchi whether she wanted to be evacuated until electric power had been restored. The elderly Greek lady flatly refused, saying that she wants to remain on the islet despite all the hardships.
Kotsatourchi has lived alone on the island since her husband Nomikos Kotsatourchis passed away in 2013.
Her only contact with the outside world during the winter months was the weekly arrival of the boat from Amorgos, bringing essential supplies to her.
Speaking to the Greek daily newspaper Dimokratia in December, Kotsatourchi revealed her fears about Turkey taking over the islet. “I’m afraid that when I close my eyes the island will be taken over by the Turks. [Turkish President] Erdogan has previously said that Kinaros is a place of worship.”
Despite this, she stressed to interviewers, she is not frightened. “I have never felt threatened despite living in a place where Turkish fighter jets often fly over. I am not scared.”
Last Saturday, Greece’s Deputy Defense Minister Alkiviadis Stefanis visited the island and exchanged wishes for the New Year with Kotsatourchi.
Kinaros is located west of Kalymnos and Leros and east of Amorgos. After Astypalea, it is the second westernmost island of the Dodecanese, and it has an area of 4.5 square kilometers (1.7 square miles).