Santorini mop-up exercise begins

Rescue units are today to start siphoning tons of petrol and other toxic substances out of the submerged wreck of the cruise ship Sea Diamond, which sank off Santorini last week. The exercise can now begin after the Merchant Marine Ministry approved a procedure proposed by the shipping firm that owns the Sea Diamond. Meanwhile, the vessel’s data recorder, retrieved by a robot submarine last Friday, has been sent abroad to a specialist laboratory so that it can be decoded. The «black box» was handed over on Saturday to a Naxos prosecutor who is handling the case. Authorities hope that the data contained on the recorder will clarify why the Sea Diamond hit a reef that is clearly marked on sea maps and whether the sinking could have been prevented. Fresh efforts on the weekend to find the bodies of a French man and his daughter, who have been missing since the ship sank, were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia insisted that the tragedy has not marred Greece’s image as a popular holiday destination. «Greece has acquired a name as a modern and safe country with modern infrastructure,» she said in an interview with Makedonia newspaper published yesterday. «We will not allow this image to be tarnished,» she said. Asked by reporters about how the tourist season is expected to develop, Palli-Petralia said «very well.» The ministry has said it is planning extra promotion for Santorini and has set aside 100,000 euros for this purpose.

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