Archive for 03/02/2012

Poly Pantelides –

One of the world’s top ten wreck dives, the Zenobia, which lies just off the Larnaca coast, is now off limits after a controversial decision by the port authorities which has enraged divers.

“It’s going to cripple every single dive school.

The Zenobia is the one place that pulls divers in,” said Alex Dimitriou who is just about to set up a diving school in Cyprus.

The Zenobia sits at a depth of 42 metres on the seabed with the top lying at 15 metres making it accessible to novices yet still challenging to advanced divers.

The 12,000 tonne 178-metre long ferry sank in 1980, taking with it some 1,000 lorries, industrial machinery and other cargo.

Divers can see vending machines, sinks and even unbroken eggs, all well preserved because conditions allow for a slow corrosion.

“It’s like no other wreck,” Dimitriou said. But port authorities decided to ban diving in port waters for “legal reasons”, port authorities’ general director Yiannakis Kokkinos said. Kokkinos said that the family of a woman who died while diving in 2010 were “considering legal action against port authorities because they consider us responsible for her death”.

Catherine Vicar, 33, was found unconscious in the engine room of the Zenobia shipwreck in October 2010.

She had separated from her group and ran out of air while underwater.

“Look, diving can be dangerous if people do not follow safety precautions and that accident was very unfortunate.

But in my years of diving in Zenobia, there were four deaths that I know of even though thousands dive each year.

Compare that to some 15 who have died off Cape Greco,” a diving instructor told the Sunday Mail on condition of anonymity.

The instructor said that there were a number of safety precautions in place including extra air tanks six metres down and rails to hold on during decompression stops.

But the instructor thought banning diving outright was “extremely arbitrary”.

Full story…


George Thande –

Weary passengers complained of unbearable heat and appalling hygiene for three days in the Indian Ocean aboard cruise ship Costa Allegra after a fire knocked out the vessel’s main power supply.

With no air conditioning, running water, lights or hot food, the 627 passengers were forced to sleep on deck in the stifling heat until the liner was towed into Seychelles capital Victoria on Thursday.

One of the Costa Allegra’s three diesel generators caught fire on Monday and although the blaze was extinguished within an hour two more generators in the engine room then failed, the ship’s captain, Niccolo Alba, told a news conference.

Alba said a general emergency was declared when the generator caught fire, the lifeboats were prepared and passengers were ready to abandon ship as the liner drifted in the Indian Ocean, where Somali pirates roam.

“It was terrible, as you can imagine.

Hygiene conditions were absolutely deplorable. I have some photos that show the state of the toilets.

We stayed for three days without electricity, it’s very difficult to live in such conditions, especially in such heat,” one passenger told Reuters Television.

Alba said two people had fallen in the dark and hurt themselves, but he denied an earlier report from a Seychelles health ministry official that six people had broken limbs.

“They were able to put the fire out and from that point on, it was just a matter of inconvenience, not having enough food, not being able to rest well at night…the heat is unbearable, so we had to spend most of our nights on the top deck of the ship,” said another passenger.

More than half the passengers took up the offer of a seven or 14-day holiday on the archipelago from the ship’s owner Costa Cruises, the same company whose giant liner Costa Concordia smashed into rocks off Italy in January.

At 29,000 gross tonnes, the ship is considerably smaller than the huge Costa Concordia which capsized, killing at least 25 people.

Full story…