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The BBC's James Helm
"The Greek Marine ministry is trying to maintain some sort of confidence in the ships sailing its waters"
 real 56k

Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Second Greek boat sinks
A Grrek priest said prayers for the dead, after the Express Samina sinking
A Greek priest prayed for the dead from Tuesday's disaster
A Greek tourist boat carrying 38 people has sunk off the Aegean island of Naxos, killing an elderly American man.

The other passengers, 27 Americans, one German, three Greeks and the crew of seven were rescued.

The vessel, the Zeus III, ran aground five minutes after leaving Naxos for Santorini and was immediately evacuated.

The accident comes just days after a Greek ferry, the Express Samina, sank off the neighbouring island of Paros, with the loss or more than 70 lives.

Earlier on Saturday, the Greek Government banned 65 ships from sailing because it said they failed to meet European safety standards.

The move came as a response to the sinking of the Express Samina.

Foreign nationals

The Merchant Marine ministry said the Zeus Three was carrying 27 American, one German and three Greek tourists.

The lifeboats on board were out of use and could not be used

Crewmember Niazi Bay

Local fishing boats, as well as helicopters and frogmen helped to search for those on board the boat, which apparently had no working lifeboats..

The BBC's correspondent in Athens, Dee Murphy, says that the elderly crew member who died was trapped in the ship as it sank.

However, she says it was otherwise a very quick and effective rescue operation, helped by the presence of so many rescue personnel in the area because of the Paros accident.

However, Niazi Bay, a member of the Zeus III's crew, told Greek TV that the ship's lifeboats were out of use.

Divers searching for bodies from the sinking of the Express Samina
Divers recovered two more bodies from the Express Samina wreck on Saturday
"The ship sank within 20 minutes of it hitting the rock," he said.

"We gave all the passengers lifebelts. Our passengers kept calm and we told them not to panic.

"Unfortunately, the lifeboats on board were out of use and could not be used."

On Friday morning, another ferry ran aground on the island of Naxos.

Safety ban

The Merchant Marine ministry said the 65 unsafe ships include passenger ferries and luxury cruise liners.

The Express Samina's captain, Vassilis Yannakis (left), has been charged with multiple murder
They must improve their standards within 20 days, or have their sailing permits revoked.

A total of 47 island ferries, nine international cruise ships and nine ferries on the Piraeus-Crete line are affected by the ban, which begins at midnight on Sunday.

The ministry said the remaining vessels will make extra trips to cover the shortfall.

Ferry aground

On Friday, a ferry with 1,081 passengers aboard ran aground as it was about to put into the port of Naxos.

The Express Artemis was stuck for three hours but managed to free itself and all passengers got off safely.

Meanwhile divers, who reached the wreck of the Express Samina for the first time on Friday, found two more bodies inside the vessel on Saturday.

The death toll from the accident could rise further, as rescue crews are unsure how many people were on board when the ferry went down.

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See also:

30 Sep 00 | Europe
Greece suspends 65 'unsafe' ships
30 Sep 00 | Europe
Greek ferry captain asleep
29 Sep 00 | Europe
Ferry safety questioned
27 Sep 00 | Europe
Ferry survivors' horror tales
27 Sep 00 | Europe
Greek ferry a 'grime-bucket'
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