Tourist boat runs aground in Greece


POROS, Greece: Greek authorities evacuated more than 300 people — mainly Americans, Japanese and Russians — from a tourist ship after it ran aground Thursday in choppy seas off an island near Athens. There were no reports of injuries.

The 278 passengers were being transported by boat to the island of Poros, said the Merchant Marine Ministry, which coordinates rescue operations at sea. There were 35 crew members aboard.

Medical crews were waiting for passengers as they came ashore wearing orange life jackets and foil blankets.

The boat went “from full cruising speed to a dead stop,” said Mark Skoine of Minneapolis.

Three helicopters and a military transport plane, as well as coast guard vessels and more than a dozen other boats, helped evacuate those on board.

Deputy Merchant Marine Minister Panos Kammenos told The Associated Press the accident was under investigation.

The ship, the Giorgis, ran aground on a reef a few miles north of Poros. It was taking on large amounts of water but did not appear to be in immediate danger of sinking, officials said.

The ministry said 103 of the people on board were Japanese, while 58 were Americans and 56 were Russians. Tourists from Spain, Canada, India, France, Brazil, Belgium and Australia also were on board. The ship is one of several that run day trips between Piraeus and the nearby islands of Aegina, Poros and Hydra.

Poros Mayor Dimitris Stratigos said good weather helped crews evacuate the passengers safely.

“Nobody suffered a scratch and everything went very well. There was no panic and nobody was hurt,” Stratigos told the AP. “We were lucky, thank God.”

Last year, a cruise ship with more than 1,500 people on board sank after hitting rocks near the Aegean island of Santorini. Two French tourists died.