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Greek cruise captain blames disaster on “strong currents”

Sunday, April 8th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
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The Greek captain of the cruise vessel “Sea Diamond” which sank last Friday, speaking on Sunday to government run Greek television denied responsibility for the incident and blamed strong sea currents for the disaster.

Speaking to Greece's NET television Cap.Ioanis Marinos he said that the ship was on her proper course when suddenly he felt the ship veer to the right. He gave the command to go to port but said that the ship did not respond in time and they struck the reef. He also said that he and some of his crew took their lives in their hands as they searched for passengers in their cabins as the ship took on a 20 degree list, saying he realized that control of the ship was now impossible as it had taken on water and was already sinking. Indicating they had acted promptly and had to the best of their ability ensured the passengers of their safety he said that his crew informed him all passengers had been evacuated safely. The search still continues however for two French nationals, a father and his daughter who, it would appear, did not escape from their cabin as it flooded with water. The man's wife and son were reported to have fled the cabin but they did not know what had happened to the other half of their family as events had happened so quickly. "Sea Diamond" with 1.154 passengers and 391 crew sank in the Aegean Sea off the island of Santorini and is in water depths ranging 70 to 170 meters deep. "I felt the ship, which had been on a normal course, slip to the right because of sea currents," NET quoted him as saying. "I gave the order for a full turn left. But there was not enough time for the ship to respond." Authorities have not named the captain or five other crew members charged in the sinking. The captain was indicted along with the other crew members on blanket charges of causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment, the Cyclades islands public prosecution office said. All have been released pending further testimony. Most of the ship's passengers were American, but also included groups from Canada, Britain, Spain, France, Australia, and the Dominican Republic. The ship's operator is part of the Cyprus-based Louis Group of tourism businesses, which has been involved in two other accidents in the past year. The cruise ship Calypso caught fire in the English Channel last May and was towed to safety, with all 708 passengers unharmed. Last October, two British children were found dead at a Louis-run hotel on the Greek island of Corfu after inhaling carbon monoxide, believed to have come from a malfunctioning boiler.

Categories: Tourism, International.

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