"ATHENS, Greece - A Greek cruise ship that struck a volcanic reef and forced the evacuation of hundreds of tourists sank on Friday, 15 hours after it began taking on water off the coast of a Mediterranean island. A Frenchman and his daughter were missing, officials said.
Passengers on Thursday climbed down rope ladders to coast guard boats below in a three-hour rescue that involved Greece's military, commercial ships and local fishermen from the island of Santorini. Passengers on the cruise were mostly American, and also included groups from Canada and Spain.
The Sea Diamond struck rocks in the sea-filled crater formed by a volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago. Tourists gathered on clifftop towns and villages to watch the rescue.
The 469-foot Sea Diamond was operated by Louis Cruise Lines, part of a Cyprus-based tourism group. The Merchant Marine Ministry said 1,195 passengers and 391 crew members were on board.
'Whoever is responsible for this will be held accountable in the strictest way,' Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia said. 'Greece is a major tourism destination and incidents like this must not be allowed to occur. ... Authorities handled the rescue very well.'
Authorities on Santorini said they were working to contain a small oil spillage from the sunken ship."
***Meanwhile, halfway around the world, there was eerily similar but more disastrous news...
After leading the Eastern Conference at this season's All-Star break, the Wizards are limping into the playoffs. They could still be bumped from postseason play, mathematically speaking, but although Washington will be lucky to win even one more game this season, with the East comprised mostly of flotsam and other sorts of wreckage, it's unlikely their collapse will be that complete. The Wiz currently possess a 39-35 record with eight regular-season games to play. There is little doubt that they will finish with a losing record, a futile second-half combination of poor play and bad luck.
"WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Put the Hibachi in storage. Gilbert Arenas is essentially done for the season.
The Washington Wizards point guard had surgery Thursday for a left knee injury that will sideline him for two to three months. Even the most optimistic scenario has him coming back only if his team manages to make the NBA finals without him.'You start feeling good about yourself, and then everything goes wrong,' said (the also injured) Caron Butler. 'I'm telling you, we don't need a weight room, we need a preacher.'"
Only the return of a certain 7'7" superhero could save them now . . .
* * *
In life, it's uncanny how frequently such bizarre parallels do occur. Both vessels suffered slow, steady declines that hit their nadir at about the same moment. Of the two events, the sunken cruise liner is reported to have a better chance of successful recovery.