Couple Aboard Ship That Sank
A Southern Pines couple were among the many rescued from a cruise ship that sank off the coast of Greece Thursday.
They were scheduled to be back home yesterday evening.
Bob and MarJeanne Harling were aboard the Sea Diamond when it struck a bed of volcanic rocks in the Aegean Sea and began to sink. The ship had been entering the harbor at Santorini Island.
"MarJeanne went with the women and children, plus a few young gutless guys, in the lifeboats," Harling said in an e-mail to a fellow member of the Southern Pines Rotary Club.
Harling stayed behind and waited for three hours before being rescued by a small ferry.
"It took a long time," said Harling, a retired marketer for the petroleum industry. "We had to crawl up and over to get to the rescue vessel because our ship was listing so bad."
The Harlings were in the midst of an island cruise as part of a 19-day vacation. Bob Harling said that he couldn't reach the cabin and the couple lost all of their luggage -- and a flag from the East Thessiloniki Rotary Club.
A French father and daughter died in the accident. The man's wife told authorities that the cabin flooded as soon as the ship struck the rocks and she wasn't sure if her husband and daughter made it out in time.
Harling said the father and daughter were assumed to have been asleep in one of the lower decks. Divers searched the wreck Friday for their bodies.
Rescuers saved more than 1,200 passengers and 300 crew members.
The Sea Diamond was owned by the Cyprus-based Louis Cruise Lines. It sank about 18 hours after striking the rocks. About two-thirds of the passengers were Americans.
The Harlings were taken to Pireaus. Then another ship from the same cruise line took them to Athens. Bob Harling said that they planned on catching a flight Saturday morning.
"I'm glad we both made it through the ordeal," he said, "and I still consider it a trip worth taking."
Matthew Moriarty may be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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