The 36-year-old man who was pushed off the boarding ramp by the crew of a departing ferry at Piraeus on Wednesday died by inhaling sea water, the port city’s coroner’s office said.
The man had tried to board the ferry as the ramp was still down. He was pushed by a crew member into the churning water created by the departing ferry’s engines and subsequently drowned. The coroner also found small lacerations on the victim’s head.
Following the incident, the ferry departed for Iraklio (Crete), but was reported by passengers. The Port Authority ordered the Blue Star ferry to return to port, and arrested the four members of the crew, including the two crew members on the platform and the captain. They were expected to testify before a prosecutor, who also took testimony from passengers and other crew members.
An internal investigation was ordered by Shipping and Island Policy Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis into the incident’s management by the Port Authority of Piraeus.
Asked by Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA), Port Authority sources said that an official was in the area but not in front of the boarding ramp. To another question by ANA-MPA, the sources said that the ramp should be up before the ship’s engines are turned on, and the Port Authority has registered the violation.
Speaking earlier in the day to Parapolitika 90.1 FM, Varvitsiotis said that he felt “shock, abhorrence, and sadness”. The crew’s actions were “a terrible insult to Greek seamen of coastal shipping, that does not befit the principles of seamanship.” The minister said the victim had a ticket, had left ship for unknown reasons, and then tried to board the ferry before it left.
In a brief statement early on Wednesday morning, ferry owner Attica Group said it was shocked by the incident and added it was collaborating with all authorities for a full investigation of the incident.