Divers search wreckage for missing passengers
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, April 6, 2007 11:53PM EDT
Divers are searching the wreckage of a Greek cruise ship for a Frenchman and his daughter, still missing after the vessel struck a reef and forced passengers to evacuate.
The Sea Diamond, which was carrying 1,600 passengers, sank off the Greek Island of Santorini, in the eastern Aegean Sea.
Two French passengers, a man and his 16-year-old daughter, are still missing, although the father's wife and his other children were rescued.
Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia told The Associated Press that she had spoken with the man's wife.
"The lady said her cabin filled with water when the ship struck rocks and that she narrowly escaped,'' said Petralia. "She was not sure whether her husband and daughter made it out because things happened so suddenly ... in a few seconds. Her other child was up on deck and was evacuated safely.''
No injuries have been reported by any of the other passengers on board, which included about 60 Canadians.
The Canadians on board, mainly high school students from Quebec and Alberta, all got safely off the listing ship before it went down.
The Alberta group, from Tofield School east of Edmonton, included 22 students ranging in age from 15-18, as well as two teachers and two adult chaperones. They are expected to continue with the last few days of their trip and will return home Tuesday.
The group from Montreal's Lester B. Pearson High School included approximately 38 students who were also accompanied by teachers and chaperones. They are expected to return to Canada on Easter Sunday.
The students were taken to Santorini, where they were fed before being taken back to Athens to board another ship.
Ben Kucenko, an Australian who was on the ship, said it was difficult to walk on the tilted deck and people were afraid the ship would capsize before the rescue was complete.
The first of the passengers left the ship on its lifeboats while others were transferred to smaller vessels once the ship was stable.
Passengers were forced to climb down rope ladders to rescue vessels.
More than a dozen ships were involved in the rescue effort, along with six navy rescue helicopters, two military transport planes and four warships.
The ship had been on a short tour of the area. It had left the port of Piraeus on Monday for a five-day island cruise and had travelled to the Greek islands of Rhodes and Mykonos, as well as the Turkish resort of Kusadasi.
With files from CTV Montreal, CTV Edmonton, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press