Cruise ship waters muddied

The owners of the cruise ship that sank off Santorini said yesterday that human error had been to blame for the accident and that efforts had been made to keep the vessel afloat and that it is not clear who ordered the tugboat to pull the ship from shallow waters. «The incident was a result of human error but so are 75 percent of all accidents at sea,» said Giorgos Koubenas, head of the operations department at Louis Cruise Lines. The government has also pointed to human error as the key factor that led to the accident last week. Captain Yiannis Marinos has blamed a current for pushing the Sea Diamond off course and onto a well-marked reef. However, there is confusion about what happened in the hours following the collision. Koubenas told reporters that the company ordered the captain to move the ship to shallower waters, some 130 meters away, so efforts could be made to prevent the vessel from sinking. Louis Cruise Lines claims the tugboat, which steadied the ship while passengers were evacuated, pulled the Sea Diamond in the opposite direction once the rescue operation was complete. «I do not know who gave the order for the ship to end up there,» Koubenas said. He added that the cruise firm is hopeful that the ship’s voyage data recorder can be recovered from the wreckage. The head of Santorini’s boatmen’s association, Gerasimos Kanakaris, told Kathimerini that there was no spot nearby wide enough where the sinking cruise ship could have been pulled. He also suggested that the Sea Diamond had begun to list by some 20 degrees when the evacuation finished and it was almost certain it would sink. Kanakaris said that the captain could be heard on the marine VHF radio wondering where the tugboat was taking the ship. Kanakaris added that the coast guard is usually responsible for deciding the fate of a sinking ship. However, authorities have not confirmed whether the coast guard intervened in the case of the Sea Diamond. Meanwhile, the search continued yesterday for the Frenchman Jean-Christophe Allain and his 16-year-old daughter Maud, who appear to have drowned in the disaster. The 45-year-old man’s wife, Anne Allain, said that a French speaker had told the family to remain in their cabin and wait for a crew member after they called reception to explain that water was seeping into the ship. In a written account sent to Agence France-Presse, Allain said that the pressure of the water forced the door to burst open. «A huge wave poured into the space where we were,» said Allain, who found herself swimming underwater in the corridor. «I instinctively surfaced on the right side of the corridor, taking into account that the ship was listing to the left. I was able to get my breath and I turned back toward the cabin but I saw no one following me,» she said.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.