Ship fuel cleanup in 10 days

The removal of 430 tons of diesel from the Sea Diamond cruise ship, which sank off the island of Santorini earlier this month, will not start for at least another 10 days, while nervous local officials and residents are calling on the government to pick up the pace of operations. Sources said that the Merchant Marine Ministry approved a plan yesterday to pump out the ship’s fuel in an operation that will take more than two months to complete. Local officials argue that the ship could be shifted at any time by strong tides able to rip open a hole in the fuel tanks. «The pumping needs to take place quickly, we can’t wait for the fuel to seep out of the ship a liter at a time,» Santorini Mayor Angelos Roussos told Kathimerini. A meeting on the issue is expected to be held in Athens today. The sinking of the 22,142-ton ship has not harmed the sea environment but the diesel represents a massive risk to the popular island. Meanwhile, investigations into locating the two missing French tourists have yet to produce results. A remote-controlled submersible robot managed to enter the cabin yesterday where the father and daughter were believed to have stayed on the ship but did not find any sign of the two. Sources said that images shown by the robot only capture 70 percent of the underwater cabin and that the bodies could be in another part of the room. Officials looking into the causes of the shipwreck will need to wait about a month to learn the information captured by the ship’s data recorder device shortly before the vessel went down. The device has been sent to the USA to be deciphered. Sources said the recording device, often referred to as the «black box,» will help to shed light on why the ship sank at the exact point it did rather than having been moved to shallower waters where it could have been salvaged more easily. Sources said that testimonies from crew members, including the captain, will start as of next week and their version of events will be compared to the information captured on the black box.

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