Greek Ship Sinks; Two Passengers Missing

April 6, 2007
Passengers Evacuate Listing Greek Cruise Ship

Louis Cruise Lines' Sea Diamond, the Greek cruise ship that struck a reef yesterday forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,600 passengers and crew, sank shortly before 7 a.m. local time (midnight EST) off the coast of Santorini, Greece -- 15 hours after the incident occurred and the ship began taking on water.

The cruise line and media outlets reported yesterday that passengers and crew were evacuated safely, and that there were no injuries. Today, however, two French passengers are missing. According to the Associated Press via the Washington Post, a 45-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter have not been accounted for; lists of rescued passengers are being rechecked.

Greek Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia told the AP that the missing man's wife said her "cabin filled with water when the ship struck rocks" and that she "narrowly escaped." 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. Louis Cruise Lines says via an official statement that "every effort is being made to locate them."

Yesterday's three-hour rescue involved Greece's military, commercial ships and local fishermen from the island of Santorini, according to the AP. There were many U.S. passengers on the cruise as well as groups from Canada and Spain; all climbed down rope ladders to rescue boats.

Australian passenger Katie Sumner told the AP, "We heard a big shudder and then the whole boat started to tilt. All of our glasses were sliding everywhere and our warning that the ship was sinking was some of the staff running down the corridor screaming out 'life jackets' and banging on doors, so we got no time to, sort of, get ready or anything, we just left as we were."

Authorities on Santorini told the AP they were working to contain a small oil spillage from the sunken ship. Meanwhile, most Sea Diamond evacuees have already arrived in Piraeus on the Aegean Two; Louis Cruise Lines' Perla also was expected to arrive there with more passengers at around noon local time.

We'll keep you posted.

Click here to view CBS News' video and photographs. --by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor