Over 1,000 Passengers Evacuated From Cruise Ship Off Greece

A listing cruise ship carrying nearly 1,600 people was evacuated safely Thursday after it struck rocks and began taking on water off the Greek island of Santorini, authorities said.

No injuries were reported aboard the Sea Diamond, which hit a reef in a lagoon near the main port of the island.

The Merchant Marine Ministry said 1,195 passengers — most of them from North America — and 391 crew members were on board. About 20 crew members remained on the ship after the three-hour evacuation.

"All the passengers are off the ship safely, and everything is OK," said Giorgos Stathopoulos, spokesman for Louis Cruise Lines, a Cyprus-based company that operates the 469-foot vessel. He said most of the passengers were from North America, with groups of U.S. college students on board.

Stathopoulos said the ship had taken on water and listed 12 degrees but was stabilized when watertight doors were activated.

Before reaching Santorini, the ship had stopped at the Greek islands of Rhodes and Mykonos and the Turkish resort of Kusadasi.

Separately Thursday, a Filipino sailor was killed on the western Greek island of Corfu in an accident during a safety drill on the German-based cruise ship Astoria. The 47-year-old man was killed and three other crew members were injured on the Bahamas-flagged Astoria when a lifeboat harness snapped and the lifeboat dangled on the side of the ship, authorities said.

The Astoria is operated by the Transocean cruise lines based in Bremen, Germany.

Most of the Sea Diamond's passengers and crew were evacuated by a small ferry and other boats to Santorini's main port.

Santorini's regional governor, Chrysanthos Roussis, said tugboats had been used to pull the ship free of rocks.

Thousands of tourists and residents watched the evacuation from the volcanic island's cliffs and port.

More than a dozen ships in the area were involved. Six navy rescue helicopters, two military transport plane and four warships also were been sent to the area, along with emergency medical crews.

The Greek-flagged Sea Diamond was built in 1986 and refurbished in 1999.