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A Ship Sinking Tragedy That Rocked Greece [Photos]

falkonera2On the night of December 7 to 8, 1966, Greek ship “Heraklion,” en route from Chania, Crete, to Piraeus, capsized and sank near the island of Falkonera. The sinking resulted in the death of hundreds of people onboard and still remains one of the greatest tragedies to ever occur in Greek waters.
The ship that belonged to Typaldos Lines was travelling under extreme weather conditions, with winds reaching 9 on the Beaufort scale. A total of 73 crew members and 191 passengers were onboard, but only 46 people survived – 16 crew members and 30 passengers. The ship’s captain, Emmanuel Vernikios, was one of the first people to abandon the ship, according to survivors, but was never found.
The ship had been delayed for 2 hours due to the extreme weather conditions. Just before it sailed, a refrigerator carrying five tons of oranges arrived at the port and requested to board the ship. The captain, who did not want to upset the company’s customer, decided to let the vehicle on board. That was his fatal mistake.
The vehicle had to board the ship from the side and it was not properly tied to the hold. During the journey, it started moving from side to side, thus breaking one of the doors and falling into the sea. At that moment, the hold was flooded and minutes later the ship began to sink.
According to survivors’ reports, the captain was afraid of arriving in Piraeus delayed so he was sailing at a very high speed, which was risky due to the bad weather. Despite the crew’s efforts, the captain refused to slow down and around 1:30 am, when the truck fell into the sea, the hold flooded and within the next 45 minutes, the ship had capsized and sank.
The rescue boats could not be used since the mechanism for lowering them to the sea was broken, therefore the ship’s crew members started throwing anything that could be used as life-raft into the sea. By 2:45 am the ship had sunk but the passengers’ suffering was long from over. Many died while waiting for help and remained in the sea until 11am when the ferry-boat “Minos” arrived at the scene.

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