ATHENS, Greece – A cruise ship captain indicted on negligence charges after his vessel sank in the Aegean Sea blamed strong currents for the accident, state-run television reported Sunday.
Two French tourists have been missing since Thursday when the ship struck rocks and eventually sank off the island of Santorini. All the other people on board — 1,154 passengers and 391 crew, according to operator Louis Cruise Lines — were rescued.
State-run NET television quoted from what it said were excerpts of his deposition to a public prosecutor on the island of Naxos, blaming currents off the volcanic island for the accident.
"I felt the ship, which had been on a normal course, slip to the right because of sea currents," NET quoted him as saying. "I gave the order for a full turn left. But there was not enough time for the ship to respond."
The captain was indicted along with five other crew members on blanket charges of causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment, the Cyclade islands public prosecution office said. All have been released pending further testimony.
Most of the ship's passengers were American, but also included groups from Canada, Spain, France, Australia, and The Dominican Republic.
The missing passengers were identified as Frenchman Jean-Christophe Allain, 45, and his 16-year-old daughter, Maud.
Efforts to search the vessel for them were set to resume Tuesday, with the help of a remote controlled undersea probe which will be used to examine the vessel more than 300 feet underwater.