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Naxos rocks claim another victim

- by Archimedes

'accident prompts safety fear at Naxos port'.

News of a German yacht hitting rocks off the Greek island of Naxos has raised fears for the safety of boat passengers in waters around the island. The incident late last month reminded many of the tragic sinking of the Express Samina in 2000 when it hit rocks near Naxos with the loss of 82 lives.

The Greek Coast Guard was alerted when the sailboat 'Paris', sailing from Crete, hit rocks between Naxos and Paros at around 8pm. The vessel ran aground on the notorious 'Amarides' rocks off the coastal resort of Agios Prokopios.

The ten occupants of the 'Paris' were rescued and none needed hospital treatment. The Paris was holed and full of water but was safely towed back to Naxos harbour.

It was almost exactly a year ago that a sailboat with 38 people of board ran aground on the 'Amarides' rocks about 1.5 miles from Parikia.

The sailboat Zeus III broke in two and sank within 15 minutes. The Coast Guard and local fishermen from Naxos went to the rescue and although the passengers, mostly American, were rescued from the sea an 82-year-old man suffered a heart attack and died on the way to hospital.

Both incidents recall the horror of the sinking of the 'Express Samina' in 2000 when 82 passengers died after the ferry hit the Portes islets in the same waters and sank.

Although no one was hurt in the latest incident. it has highlighted problems with the boatyard marina of Naxos when rescuers were forced to use car headlights to illuminate the port.

As the stricken sailboat was towed in at around 9.40pm they found the port in complete darkness and rescue boats had problems navigating into the harbour.

Now coastguard officials have asked for proper lighting to be installed in the harbour and they want the inlet to be dredged to take larger boats.

The sinking of the Express Samina off the coast of Naxos made world news. The ferry hit rocks just after 11pm resulting in the deaths of 82 people from a total of 533 on board.

The first to answer the distress call were fishing boats from Naxos, followed by the Naxos port authorities and British ships, in the area on a a NATO exercise.

After the disaster, laws were brought in to ensure ferries over 30 years old comply with strict safety standards, and regular inspections and must now carry voyage recorders, the equivalent of aircraft 'black boxes'.