Freighter crew escapes wreck to end in prison

Eight Ukrainian sailors, rescued from a foundering freighter in high seas off Santorini on Christmas Eve, were arrested the following day after the vessel turned out to be carrying over a million packs of contraband cigarettes instead of the declared cement shipment. A search of the half-sunken Elizabeth, which ran aground in a strong gale on the islet of Christianna, 24 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of the Cycladic island, found nearly 35 tons of smuggled British cigarettes in the hold, the Merchant Marine Ministry said on Christmas Day. The crew of North Korean-flagged ship, which had sailed from Port Said in Egypt for Bar in Montenegro, had been safely evacuated via rescue helicopter. All eight are to be charged with smuggling. Meanwhile on Christmas Day, another North Korean-flagged freighter, the Lounes, ran aground on rocks at Aghiokambos, near Larissa. The six crewmen were unhurt.