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Greek Hospital in Istanbul Damaged by Fire

Greek Hospital Istanbul
The Greek Hospital in Istanbul on fire on Thursday. Credit: Anadolu Agency via AMNA

The Balıklı Greek Hospital in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district caught fire on Thursday. Firefighting crews from throughout the city rushed to the scene while patients, mostly elderly citizens, were carried outside on stretchers and wheelchairs. No casualties were reported.

Istanbul‘s governorate announced that some eighty patients were transferred to other hospitals. The cause of the fire is unknown, though flames engulfed the entire roof of the hospital.

Zeytinburnu Mayor Ömer Arısoy told reporters that the fire broke out in the afternoon in a section of the hospital used as a care home for the elderly. He said the blaze erupted on the roof and crews managed to evacuate the residents in a timely manner.

The Balıklı Greek Hospital was built and sponsored by the Union of Greek Grocers.

The immediate objective of the hospital was to help cure epidemics and common diseases specifically affecting the ethnic Greek population of Constantinople.

The hospital had also caught fire in 1790. The fire completely destroyed the structure, and it was rebuilt in 1793 under the sponsorship of Patriarch Neophytus VIII.

By the end of the 18th century, the Greek community of Constantinople had established three hospitals, namely Balıklı, another hospital in the district of Galata in 1762, and a third in Pera in 1780.

Greek Hospital in Istanbul under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarch

All three hospitals had their own particular constitutions, but they were all placed under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who was responsible for nominating the administrative boards of the hospitals.

In 1852, through the sponsorship of Patriarch Cyril VI, the Balıklı hospital established an orphanage on the premises.

The hospital also features a church, which serves not only patients but the Greek Orthodox community at large. During the Istanbul riots of 1955, the hospital received many patients, who suffered from trauma, rape, and physical abuse.

The hospital was restored in 1991 and in 1994 and was the first private clinic established for the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse in Turkey.

Bartholomew: We thank the Lord we did not mourn any victims

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew thanked authorities and volunteers for helping to put out a fire at the Balikli Greek Hospital in Istanbul on Thursday, expressing relief there were no victims.

“Our Greek community received a great blow today,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said, “one of its greatest philanthropic institutions that treated with loving care our older brothers and sisters were heavily damaged by a catastrophic fire.

“We thank the Lord we did not mourn any victims, and we thank state and local government authorities, as well as firefighters, nursing home and the nearby hospital staff, and all volunteers, for helping save the residents and for fighting to put the fire out. Human lives are important; buildings, facilities, material things can be restored.”

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