NEWS

Human error is highlighted in sinking

Efforts to clean up the sea and find the two missing French tourists in the wreckage of the Sea Diamond cruise ship continued in Santorini yesterday as Merchant Marine Minister Michalis Kefaloyiannis indicated that human error had been responsible for the vessel's sinking. «Most definitely there was also human error,» said Kefaloyiannis about Thursday's accident. «What concerns us now... is environmental protection and finding the two missing French tourists.» A remote-controlled submersible yesterday began recording images of the 22,412-ton ship, which has come to rest at a depth of some 150 meters. Initial footage appears to confirm that there is a hole some 40 meters long in the ship's hull, which struck a reef. The 38-year-old captain, Yiannis Marinos, allegedly told authorities that a current caused the accident. His lawyer, Stylianos Voudouris, told Kathimerini that Marinos had been informed by his crew that all the cabins had been checked for passengers before the evacuation began. An hour after the collision with the reef, Marinos was informed that some cabins had not been checked because they had been flooded. By that time, it was too late to conduct further checks, Marinos allegedly told authorities. The two missing French tourists, Jean-Christophe Allain and his daughter Maud, had been in those cabins. Meanwhile, experts continued yesterday to clean up an oil slick that has formed close to the island. «We are in a better position now than we were during the first few days but we cannot relax yet,» said oceanographer Vassilis Mamaloukas, who is the director of the company in charge of the cleanup operation. Floating barriers have been placed in the sea to stop the pollution from spreading and six vessels are being used to collect the oil from the sea. Mamaloukas told Kathimerini that chemicals are not being used in the effort to clean the water. Santorini Mayor Angelos Roussos said the municipal council had decided to hire a legal firm to monitor the cleanup operation and would consider whether a lawsuit should be launched if the island's ecosystem is damaged. «We all want the ship to be salvaged and removed from Santorini,» Roussos told Kathimerini. The head of the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents, Yiannis Evangelou, told Kathimerini that there was no indication that tourists had canceled trips to Greece in the wake of the accident. He said that some 10,000 tourists on cruises are expected to have visited Santorini in the week following the accident.

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