Sea Diamond security checked

Authorities were yesterday looking into whether the crew of the Sea Diamond cruise ship had carried out mandatory security checks on passengers boarding and disembarking the vessel, which sank earlier this month off Santorini. The probe got under way following reports that a carpenter from the ship’s crew had disembarked on Crete but that his absence had not been noticed until after the evacuation off Santorini. Also, Santorini Port Authorities were allegedly given a passenger register with at least five repeat entries. Authorities are considering the possibility that a Frenchman and his daughter, whom rescue units have been seeking since the sinking, also disembarked the vessel on Crete. Suspicions have been fueled by reports that a French female passenger and her son, who declared her husband and daughter missing after the sinking, ordered just two meals, instead of four, after the vessel left Crete. Rescue workers searching for the Frenchman and his daughter have found no sign of them. Meanwhile, as environmentalists warn about the environmental impact of the fuel leaking out of the Sea Diamond wreck, Merchant Marine Ministry Manolis Kefaloyiannis met in Athens with local officials from Santorini to discuss the cleanup. Kefaloyiannis did not say when the process of pumping the fuel out of the sunken wreck would begin. Efforts to clean up spilt fuel are already under way but experts say the vast majority of the fuel remains inside the vessel’s tanks. Kefaloyiannis is to meet again with local authority officials tomorrow. Tourism sector officials yesterday reiterated that the ship’s sinking had not harmed Greece’s image as a holiday destination. Santorini expects 900,000 visitors this year, up from 700,000 last year, officials said.

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