Greece to sue over cruise ship

Greece is going to claim up to 1 billion euros in damages from the company that owns the Sea Diamond cruise ship which sank off Santorini in April, the government revealed yesterday. Merchant Marine Minister Michalis Kefaloyiannis said that the Greek state will file a civil lawsuit against the Cyprus-owned Louis Hellenic Cruises. He said that he had already contacted nine ministries to asses what damage the sinking of the vessel had caused to the sectors of the economy that fall under their authority. A four-member committee will be set up to compile a report by July 10 that will be forwarded to the Merchant Marine Ministry’s legal advisers before they file the lawsuit. Kefaloyiannis said that any damages recovered from the company would be transferred to a special fund set up improve Greece’s protection against sea pollution. Experts are still analyzing information from the ship’s data recorder to work out what led to the vessel’s sinking. Authorities on Santorini threatened legal action last week against the Merchant Marine Ministry and Louis Hellenic Cruises as they have yet to explain how some 400 tons of diesel still in the ship’s fuel tanks will be removed. Environmentalist warned yesterday that authorities cannot simply wait for the fuel to seep out and be collected once it reaches the surface. «The immediate pumping out of the diesel should have been the main priority,» the head of Greenpeace in Greece, Nikos Charalambidis, told Kathimerini. «As international experience has shown, once the fuel has escaped into the sea, we can only collect a small amount of it, which rarely exceeds 15 percent of the total quantity,» he added.