Survivor details shipwreck ordeal

11th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

ATHENS, April 11, 2007 (AFP) - A French woman whose husband and teenage daughter are still missing after last week's Greek cruise ship accident gave a dramatic account Wednesday of how they were caught in their cabin when the boat was holed.

ATHENS, April 11, 2007 (AFP) - A French woman whose husband and teenage daughter are still missing after last week's Greek cruise ship accident gave a dramatic account Wednesday of how they were caught in their cabin when the boat was holed.

Anne Allain, 43, was in a lower-deck cabin with her 45-year-old husband Jean-Christophe and their 16-year-old daughter Maud when the ship hit a reef off the Greek island of Santorini last Thursday.

Their son Raphael was up on deck at the time.

The 143-metre (472-foot) Sea Diamond, operated by Cyprus-based Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines, hit the reef half a nautical mile offshore as it was preparing to dock and quickly took on a 12-degree list to starboard.

"At no point did any of us feel a jolt," Allain insisted in a written account sent to AFP.

"Then I heard a sound of water, like a leak, and I noticed that water was beginning to come under the cabin door.

"We immediately thought that the pool had overflowed due to the (ship's) list, and we did not worry about taking further measures and closed the door," said Allain, who lives in Doue-la-Fontaine in the northwest of France.

The water level rose so quickly they lifted their things on to the beds, but the beds themselves soon became soaked, and soon it had become impossible for them to open the door.

"Maud said 'Mum, I'm scared'. I decided to call reception to explain the situation. An English-speaking person answered then asked me to wait while they found a French speaker to speak to me."

When they did find someone he told her not to move, because a member of the crew would come immediately.

But as they waited, the water outside the cabin continued to rise, exerting such pressure on the door that it finally burst open: "A huge wave poured into the space where we were," she said.

Allain suddenly found herself swimming under water in the corridor.

"I was very scared because I am not a very good swimmer. I swam underwater for a few metres," she said.

"I instinctively surfaced on the right side of the corridor taking into account the fact that the ship was listing to the left.

"I was able to get my breath back and I turned back towards the cabin but I saw no one following me.

"I didn't feel capable of turning around and, since I knew that Maud and Jean-Christophe were good swimmers, I decided to go up and look for Raphael and call for help," she explained.

Meanwhile, the evacuation of the ship's other 1,153 passengers and 391 crew members was under way. A few hours later the boat sank 150 metres (490 feet) to the sea bed.

Rescue workers are still searching for Jean-Christophe and Maud Allain, the only passengers still missing.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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