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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2007, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Students home after cruise rescue
The Sea Diamond - picture taken by Natalie Gray
About 30 students from Henley College were on board the ship
Students and teachers from an Oxfordshire college have arrived back in the UK after being involved in a dramatic rescue in the Aegean Sea.

More than 30 students from Henley College were on board the cruise ship Sea Diamond, which ran aground near the Greek island of Santorini on Thursday.

There were no reported injuries among the group, which flew back on Saturday.

Steve Waite, former Mayor of Reading, said his daughter Charlotte, 17, had been badly shocked by her experience.

I'm just thankful to be alive
Student Natalie Gray

Mr Waite, from Caversham in Reading, told BBC News: "She is pretty shocked actually. I thought it would be a case of coming home and having a cuddle and we would be all right but she has been very, very tearful.

"The fact that people might have died has affected her very badly. Charlie was very tender last night.

"She has been telling stories of people stuck in a lift, a woman running around saying she could not find her kids - all putting a human face on it all."

Sixteen-year-old student Natalie Gray, from Emmer Green, described the moment the ship ran aground: "It was terrifying. At first we had no idea what was happening.

The Sea Diamond - picture taken by Natalie Gray
Ms Gray praised the crew for helping the students leave the ship

"We were getting ready for a night out and putting make-up on and I just remember the cabinet coming at me.

"The Greek TV channels have been saying how the crew were so bad but they couldn't have done more for us. They were so calm, kept counting us and asking if we were OK.

"When we got on land, I just thought 'My God, I could have died'.

"We were all just looking for our friends - they were all over the place and my boyfriend had been on the other side of the ship.

"I'm just thankful to be alive."

College lecturer Simon Walters, who organised the trip for an A-level course in ancient civilisations, has also praised the calm reaction of his students.

Meanwhile, Greek navy divers are continuing to search for two French tourists missing since the ship, which was carrying 1,600 people, sank.

A government official has 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.

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

Students on way home after rescue
06 Apr 07 |  Oxfordshire
Students rescued from cruise ship
05 Apr 07 |  Oxfordshire

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