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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 April 2007, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Divers search for Greek ship pair
Sea Diamond
The ship sank 15 hours after it ran aground on rocks
Greek navy divers are continuing to search for two French tourists missing after a cruise ship sank off the Greek island of Santorini on Thursday.

The 45-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter were among 1,600 people aboard the Greek-flagged Sea Diamond when it ran aground and began taking in water.

The remaining passengers and crew were evacuated hours before the vessel sank.

A government official told AP news agency the captain had now been charged with negligence.

Unconfirmed reports on Greek television said five other officers were charged with other misdemeanour offences.

No trace

Officials have named the missing pair as Jean-Christophe and Maud Allain, from Doue-la-Fontaine in western France.

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They were in a four-berth cabin when the vessel struck a reef. Mr Allain's wife and son narrowly managed to escape to the upper decks.

Navy divers smashed the port hole of their cabin, but failed to find any trace of them, raising the possibility that they were trapped by watertight doors, says the BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens.

A submersible equipped with video equipment is expected to join the search.

The 143-metre (469 ft) Sea Diamond was about one nautical mile (1.8km) off the coast of Santorini when it struck a reef.

Louis Cruise Lines, the Cypriot firm which runs the ship, has insisted the ship was equipped with all the latest navigation technology.

American passenger Cliff Jones said: "We were pulling into the port and I think the ship hit a few rocks.

"The ship tilted so far to the right the first five floors were flooded. We just waited at the top to be rescued," he told the BBC.

Prosecutor appearance

The other passengers and crew were rescued in a three-hour operation, before being taken to the port of Piraeus, the ship's original destination.

Many of the 1,200 passengers are from Germany and the United States, and about 20 are believed to be from the UK, Louis Cruise Lines said.

A merchant marine ministry spokeswoman told AP the captain had been charged with causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety rules and pollution.

The captain and five other officers, all Greek nationals, were freed after appearing before a prosecutor on the island of Naxos, she said.

Greek media reports said the captain could not explain how the ship hit the reef but he said he and other crew put their lives at risk by going to the second deck to see if anyone was trapped.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Images of the stricken ship in the Aegean Sea



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