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What was initially thought to have been a successful evacuation effort, was found to be unsuccessful as two French passengers have been reported missing off of Sea Diamond on Friday. The cruise ship, Sea Diamond had struck rocks off the coast of Santorini on Thursday afternoon, and had sunk into the Mediterranean by 7 a.m. on Friday morning. Due to the 15 hour delay, the 1,600 people on the board were able to evacuate the ship as it continually began listing to starboard.
Friday morning it was revealed that two French passengers are missing, one of them is a 45 year old French man, and the other is his 16 year old daughter. Rescue efforts to locate the two missing passengers are still on.
Fanny Palli Petralia, Greek Tourism Minister met the missing tourist's wife, and remarked that, "These are very tragic circumstances". The lady reported that as soon as the ship struck the rocks, her cabin began filling with water, at which time she immediately got out. She could not confirm whether her husband and daughter made it out of the cabin, while her other child was already on the deck and was rescued safely.
The cruise ship mainly consisted of tourists from Canada, USA and Spain and had already made stops at the islands of Rhodes and Mykonos, and was streaming into the Santorini lagoon when the incident occurred. A little before 4 p.m. on Thursday evening, the 469 foot cruise ship unfortunately hit submerged rocks and soon after, began taking in water.
Catherine Small, a 17 year old recalled the incident, "We were taking pictures as we were coming into Santorini. All of a sudden there was a big jolt. The ship then really tilted far. It was kind of freaking us out. Scary".
As the passengers waited patiently on the deck, the three hour rescue effort went off without a hitch and all passengers were transferred onto waiting ships. Apart from a dozen ships, four warships, six navy helicopters and two military transport planes were involved in the operation. The entire operation involving the removal of 1,195 passengers as well as 391 crew members went off so smoothly that Manolis Kerfaloyiannis, Merchant Marine Minister proudly remarked, "Not one had as much as a nose bleed".
But as reports of two missing French passengers came to light on Friday, the scene seems to have dimmed a little. The list of passengers is being rechecked to find out what might have happened to the two missing tourists. Most of the evacuated passengers have been transferred to Piraeus, main port of Athens by chartered ferry, on Friday morning itself.