Mayday (2013) s03e11 Episode Script

Collision Course

NARRATOR: A shipwreck in the Greek islands.
Hundreds of people fight for survival in a swirling storm.
WOMAN: We need to help this man! With their lives on the line, some people become heroes.
Others do whatever it takes to stay alive.
MAN: Keep her away! She'll kill us both! Investigators uncover an extraordinary chain of events.
Small mistakes which have deadly consequences.
MAN: Mayday! Mayday! We're doing 90 miles an hour! Out of control! TRAIN HORN SOUNDS PEOPLE SCREAM WOMAN: Take a life jacket! MAN: Where's the coastguard? Don't let go! The Greek capital, Athens.
This great metropolis has a 3,000-year history - a history built around the city's easy access to the Mediterranean.
I'm hurrying! (Laughs) Are you sure you don't got them? Tuesday, September 26, 2000.
Christine Shannon and Heidi Hart, from Seattle, are close friends.
They've bought tickets for a ferry ride to the island of Paros, 166km to the south-east.
- 'Express Samina'? - 'Express'.
'Express' sounds good.
Christine's 32 and teaches preschool.
Heidi's 26 and just graduated from college.
She wants to go into business management.
It's been a crazy kind of day.
They'd planned on going to the island of Santorini, further south.
- It's huge! Oh, we have to hurry! - OK, let's go.
So, now, I have the tickets! We'd been enjoying Athens the night before - a little TOO much, and we overslept and missed our Santorini boat.
HEIDI: I had never heard of Paros.
I even asked them, "Well, show me on a map where the island is.
" And then I said, "Never mind.
It doesn't matter.
"Let's just go.
It's the next boat.
Let's go somewhere.
" So, it was a fluke that we were on that boat.
Christine and Heidi are among 472 passengers who board the 'Samina' today.
As they get ready to embark, one thing becomes clear.
Some of the boats on the islands run are modern, newly built.
But the 'Samina' comes from a different era.
She's been crisscrossing the Mediterranean since 1966.
The 'Samina' was launched before these two were born.
And though they don't realise it, Greek safety laws say that in little over a year, the 'Samina' will be pulled out of service and sent to the scrapyard.
HEIDI: I made a few jokes to Christine about, "The lifeboats don't look very safe.
"If we get into trouble out here," I said, "we'll be screwed.
" And I said, "Well, there's no icebergs in the Aegean.
" "So we should be OK.
" - 'Cheese'.
- Cheese.
The 'Samina' can carry more than 1,000 passengers, along with her 61 crew, so today, the ship's less than half full.
Katrina Stark and her cousin Sarah Davis, both from New Zealand, are backpacking.
Like Heidi and Christine, they're literally sailing into the unknown.
WOMAN: We had no plans.
We went to get on the very first ferry that was leaving, going wherever it was going to take us, and that happened to be first stop, Paros.
At 7:15, two hours into the journey, the sun is setting.
At 8pm, the 'Samina' passes the island of Kythnos.
They are on schedule to reach Paros at around 10:15.
The wind is rising, the sea is growing rougher, but these northerly winds, known as the Meltemi, are frequent at this time of the year.
The 'Samina' has weathered conditions much worse than this over the past three decades.
I'm going to take a nap! Heidi and Christine are the only people left outside.
They think their tickets don't allow them to go in.
Wake me when we're there.
HEIDI: I said, "We have third-class tickets.
"We have to stay out on the deck.
"It's gonna be a cold, wet, terrible night.
" But I didn't even think to go downstairs where most of the people on the boat were.
For the crew of the 'Samina', the night-time journey is routine.
Hazards, such as reefs and rocks, are all clearly marked on their charts.
Many have warning lights.
Two jagged outcrops rise from the sea within site of the main harbour on Paros, Parikia Bay.
Known as the 'Portes', or the Gates, they lie 5.
5 kilometres from the town.
For every mariner sailing these waters, the Gates of Paros are a familiar landmark.
They're welcoming - but dangerous too.
The rocks rise 25 metres out of the sea.
Every passing ship must give them a wide clearance.
At night, a beacon light on the taller of the two rocks sends a clear warning to sailors - stray too close to the Gates of Paros, and disaster will follow.
They're still two hours away.
But they're sailing into a growing storm.
Despite the weather, Christine and Heidi are still out in the open.
CHRISTINE: Had I known we could go to any other part of the boat at that point in time, I would have, but I didn't know.
And, actually, being in that part of the boat, I think, was very fortuitous for us, because we were able to be aware of what was going on later.
Being out on the deck will help save their lives.
Soon, everyone aboard will be fighting for survival.
It's 10pm.
The wind has now risen to nearly 50km/h.
Waves are cresting two metres high.
Despite the gale, visibility is good.
Those are the lights of Paros.
The 'Samina's on time and still pushing forward at 33km/h.
the ship lurches sharply to the left.
- What's that? - I don't know.
The lights of Parikia.
Even car headlights are clearly visible just 5.
5km away.
But then another light cuts through the darkness.
What the? BOTH: Whoa! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! This rock just comes out of nowhere, just out of the black night, and I'll never forget what it looks like in my mind - it was this brown, kind of craggly, sandish-looking rock that had lights on top of it, shining down, so it illuminated it.
And it just it made it look like a movie set.
The side of the boat scraped along the side.
I could have walked over and touched it.
And you could hear down in the lower decks of the boat that the metal was just ripping apart.
The unthinkable has happened.
The 'Samina' has crashed against the Gates of Paros.
1 million kilos of ship grind against the rocks.
It was the worst sound and the loudest sound I've ever heard in my life.
It sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard - just God's fingernail on the biggest chalkboard in the world.
There was a hole and it was going to sink, and it was going to sink fast.
PASSENGERS GROAN The shock wave reverberates through the ship.
KATRINA: Suddenly, there was a big lurch to the right side of the boat, and people who were standing up got thrown off their feet.
Everything in the bar smashed.
It seemed like maybe a minute or two until the boat started to noticeably lilt to the side and tip, and that's kind of when the chaos started.
PANICKED SHOUTING Lots of people were crying, lots of people were praying, holding on to each other, yelling.
DESPERATE SHOUTING There was no alarm or siren.
There was no-one to tell us what we were supposed to do.
We need to get off this boat and we need to leave right now! We don't have to panic! Christine said to me, "The 'Titanic' took hours to sink.
" And I said, "We don't have that much time.
" We don't have hours, Christine! We need to leave now! OK, OK, OK.
HEIDI: In my mind, I thought, "This boat's going to sink and we're all going to die.
" KATRINA: There were all these people trying to get life jackets.
Being tall, I was able to reach over the heads of most people who were trying to get hold of life jackets, and grab two.
The 'Samina' has 61 crew members, but where are they? Passengers must fend for themselves.
So I yelled to Christine, "Come here.
I think I found life vests.
" (Both shout indistinctly) At this point, people were starting to run past us.
And I was saying, "Here, take these," and throwing them out, and people were just panicking.
Take the life jacket! (People shout) (All shout in panic) Within minutes of the collision, the ship's lights go out.
Passengers are plunged into darkness until emergency generators kick in.
And then the first flare went off.
FLARE FIZZES LOUDLY This eerie red glow coming down over the ferry gave it a whole 'nother feeling of just terror, that we're out in the night, in the dark and the ferry is going to sink.
PANICKED SCREAMING MAN: Get out of the way! At the harbour, port officials are now aware of the developing crisis.
Port authority vice-commander Dimitros Malamas starts to organise a rescue.
He needs all available boats right now.
What vessels do we have in the area? Alexis Bisbas runs a yacht charter business in Parikia.
(Starts boat motor) The first I heard of the disaster was a phone call that I got from the port police at about 10:15.
Can I get out there with my boat as quickly as possible, just to help with whatever might be necessary? And there was no way that we had any idea that it was going to be a disaster of that magnitude.
AMBULANCE SIREN WAILS Paros has a medical centre equipped for the islanders' basic needs, not a major disaster.
Dr John Polyzoides was an ER surgeon for 35 years.
Though retired, he helps run the centre.
We saw the ship was going down and there were a lot of boats and lights, and so on.
But I personally did not expect anything tragic among all that, because they were so close to the harbour.
Aboard the 'Samina', many of the 472 passengers are in a state of sheer terror.
HEIDI: It was chaos.
It was people not knowing what to do and waiting for a captain or a crew to help us.
There was a woman who went through the door just before us, and sheas soon as she got out onto the deck, she climbed over the railings and just jumped off.
Like, didn't look back or didn't say anything to anybody, and just climbed over and threw herself off, into the water.
There was people holding children over the railings, wanting to throw them down to people in the water, and it was it was quite a terrible scene.
The wind hampers efforts to abandon ship.
They were releasing inflatable life rafts.
They weren't attached to the ship, so as soon as it was released - it was in a big storm - it would get picked up by the wind as soon as it was inflated and they were just blowing halfway to Athens.
The rafts blow beyond the reach of many passengers who've already leapt into the sea.
(Coughs) In the confusion, Heidi Hart is knocked flying, striking her head.
PANICKED SCREAMING Heidi! Are you OK? HEIDI: I kept thinking, "If I black out now, you know, I'm done for.
"This boat's sinking.
I have to stay conscious.
" I had this adrenaline rush.
And there was, I mean, a feeling that I would call terror.
I mean, I knew instantly this was going to be a fight for our lives.
There was some point in time where I literally felt myself leave my body and instincts kicked in.
Everybody was running to the rear of the boat, and Christine just looked at me and said "Go that way, to the front of the boat.
" And she said, "But nobody's up there.
" It was the darkest part of the boat, it was the highest part of the boat.
She said, "Nobody's up there.
" I said, "I don't care.
Go!" And luckily for us, that's where we found a lifeboat hanging over the side of the ship.
Heidi and Christine have escaped the sinking ship.
But they're still at the mercy of the storm.
When we jumped into the lifeboat, it wasn't orderly - "Here's your seat.
" It was, "Jump.
Where you land is where you are.
" So we were just kind of all pig-piled in this lifeboat together.
The battle for survival takes an ugly turn.
Each passenger must decide - help others or fend for themselves.
There was five or six men in the back of the boat and they were fighting with each other.
They were yelling at each other.
As the ferry was sinking, they kept pointing at it and fighting with each other.
And then this is when I see the guy swimming up to the boat, and so I started getting ready.
I'm thinking, "OK.
I've got to throw him something.
"He has no life vest on.
" Get him! Get him! (Speaks indistinctly) One of you, grab him! The only thing you could see was his eyes and his nose coming out of the water, and he was just barely making it, swimming towards us.
Everybody else on the boat was yelling, "No, no.
We can't take any more people on.
" I've got you! Don't worry! I've got you! And Heidi leaned over and grabbed this gentleman's hand, and I reached over and grabbed her by the waist.
And she told me, "I'm not letting go," and I yelled to the other people, "She's not letting go.
" He had taken off almost all of his clothes.
He was wearing just his underwear.
We need to take a hand! We need to help this man! HEIDI: I mean, I'm not a very big person.
I'm 5 feet tall.
Just me trying to pull him in the boat wasn't going to work.
That's it! The men in the lifeboat realise that Heidi won't let go and finally help haul the drowning man on board.
I don't know what they were thinking.
They were panicking.
SoI mean, who am I to judge what other people were thinking and doing? But (Sighs) .
there was a lot more that could have been done that night.
Of the 533 people who set out on the 'Samina', many are now in the sea.
Others are still trapped on the vessel itself.
METAL GROANS The ship begins to roll over.
If it goes down, dozens of people will be dragged down with it.
METAL GROANS GLASS BREAKS Oh, my God! The passenger ferry 'Express Samina' has struck rocks near the island of Paros, in the Aegean Sea.
533 passenger and crew face a battle to survive in high winds and stormy seas.
Some people have managed to clamber into a lifeboat.
Others have stayed with the ship and now fear it will sink beneath them.
KATRINA: At that stage, we were on the deck trying to figure out whether it was a good idea to jump overboard as well.
But we were tilting further and further and it was getting to the point where we didn't really have that choice anymore.
It's 10:50 - 40 minutes after the collision.
Sarah! Are you behind me?! As the 'Samina' continues to roll, Katrina Stark has little choice.
She hauls herself over the rail.
The ship has turned completely on its side.
Katrina is sitting on the hull.
Should she try to swim for shore or wait for rescue? While I was sitting there thinking about that .
all of a sudden, the ship just sank underneath us and sucked us down and everything around it.
And, like, I don't know how much time we were under the water, but I had enough time to think, "This is where I die.
"This is the part where I drown.
" I kind of thought, "Well, OK.
That's fine," and had enough time to be OK with that.
Just as we got there, we saw the ferry sinking, um, which wasan extreme sight.
And to see this entire ship sink beneath the waves and to be gone, and just leave us in our little lifeboat, it wasit was amazing.
It wasalmost beautiful, in a sad sort of way.
And then complete blackness.
Huge waves.
The 'Samina' sinks 2.
5km from the Gates of Paros.
Even without its engines, wind, waves and the ship's own momentum carry the 'Samina' closer to the shore.
The sea here is 38m deep.
As the 'Samina' goes down, huge bubbles of air escape from the ship, making the water less dense, making objects in the water sink more quickly.
Katrina Stark sinks several metres before the buoyancy of her life jacket pulls her up again.
As suddenly as I had been sucked under, suddenly I popped up at the top.
Sarah! Her priority now is to find her cousin Sarah.
In the storm, she can't tell where she is.
The waves were so big that for one second, it sounded like she was over there, and so I tried to swim that way.
The next second, it sounded like she was over there so I swam that way.
Sarah! Sarah! I can hear you but I can't see you! Sarah! Sarah! Eventually, I said to her, "OK, make sure you get on a boat and get back to land, "and I will see you back on shore.
" At 11:15pm, Dr Polyzoides receives his first casualty of the night.
But something doesn't add up.
POLYZOIDES: They brought a man on a stretcher.
He was semiconscious.
And then we started working on him.
He had hardly any blood pressure.
And when we were resuscitating him, I realised that he was dry.
Which had meant that he didn't he was not from the ship.
Anyway, we carried on.
Eventually, we lost him.
He died in our hands.
And then people came and said, "Do you know who it was?" And I said, "No.
" His patient isn't from the 'Samina'.
But the disaster still claims its first victim.
The man is Dimitros Malamas, who'd been helping organise the rescue.
In the crisis, he'd suffered a heart attack.
He was 40 years old.
So you can understand, even at this early stage, although we did not know the number of people that we were going to lose, there was that sense of tragedy immediately from the very beginning.
A local shopkeeper, George Skandalis, grabs his video camera and captures these first raw images as survivors begin to appear.
HEIDI: As soon as we got close enough to shore, when I saw this white cathedral with the blue-domed top, that was when I finally knew we'd made it.
We were gonna get to shore, we were gonna be alive.
more alive than I'd ever felt in my life.
Giddy, almost giddy.
And actually, afterwards, one of the things that I had to come to terms with was that people died .
and I felt so alive.
One of the local fishing boats now appears, crowded with people who've been dragged from the sea.
Local boatowner Alexis Bisbas is part of the rescue flotilla searching for survivors.
One minute, we were flying across the top of a wave - the next minute, we were burying the bow of the boat into the previous wave.
We had water coming across the decks.
I've been sailing all my life.
I've never had a situation like that.
I never want to be in that situation ever again.
Because it wasterrifying.
He plucks 25 people from the sea in three trips out into the stormy waters.
One of the amazing things in these situations is the way people behave.
A young man we pulled out was still carrying his portable stereo system.
So, the one hand's trying to grab hold of the boat and the other hand, as we realised, was being hampered by this stereo system that he still had in his other hand.
And one of them was an old lady who had tied to her life jacket her bag.
As we were trying to drag her into the boat, we realised that something was stopping her.
And I went to cut her free of this bag and she said to us that if we did, we should throw her back, because that was her entire life in this bag.
LOUD COMMOTION AND SHOUTING Many survivors are in a state of shock.
All are cold, wet and exhausted.
Just a few hundred metres away, dozens of people are still in the water, trying to stay alive until they're spotted by a rescue boat.
Katrina Stark and a fellow survivor, a total stranger, are now clinging desperately to a piece of wreckage.
KATRINA: My first surprise about being in the water was that it was warm.
I was really expecting the water to be cold.
They were big waves and you just had to cling on tight to the piece of wreckage.
Not too far away from us was an older Greek woman, who couldn't swim, and she was panicking and was screaming and yelling, trying to get someone to come and save her.
And the guy that I was with was saying, "She's going to want to come over to us, "and if she grabs hold of us, she's going to drag us down.
" MAN: Keep her away! She'll kill us both! Forget her! She had kind of wild eyes, like she was clearly panicking, and a big wave came, um, and washed over her, and she didn't come back up out of the water.
She had drowned.
There are still some signs of hope.
Some people have been pushed south by the wind.
Miraculously avoiding being smashed onto the rocks, they've wound up on a sandy beach, the Bay of St Irene.
A life raft beaches in the same spot.
They're safe now, but the terror these little children have gone through is hard to comprehend.
More than 400 survivors have now wound up on the dockside.
Many have suffered a terrifying ordeal in the water.
They're rushed to the medical centre, where Dr Polyzoides has now assembled a team of 15 medics - some doctors and nurses based on the island, others, tourists who've come in to assist.
Between 11:30 and 12:00, the first drowned was brought in on a stretcher.
And although I worked for 35 years as an accident surgeon, it was a horrible experience.
And that was the beginning of the horrific feeling which I had, that this is serious now.
At midnight, after an hour in the water, Katrina Stark is brought to shore.
KATRINA: We were the last people that they were able to bring up onto the boat and they headed back for the harbour.
Um, and on the way, they stopped a couple times to pick people up, but they would go to pick them up and realise that they were dead, and so they'd just leave them where they were.
Katrina doesn't know if her cousin made it.
- Sarah? - Katrina! I was justnever been so happy to see anybody in my whole life.
How did you get here? KATRINA: And I just grabbed hold of her and wouldn't leave her side for a second.
- I'm so happy to see you.
(Laughs) - Me too! Are you OK? Are you keeping warm? HEIDI: It was terrifying.
I mean, it's been five years since the accident and I still have nightmares.
I still think about it.
It will still make me cry.
CHRISTINE: It was traumatic and it was very scary, but it was also a singularly defining moment in my life where I was able to use all of the resources I had to survive.
I think we've got him! Pull, pull, pull, pull, pull! I don't think I would have chosen not to live through this.
At half past midnight, more than two hours after the collision, the rescue operation is becoming more and more a search for bodies.
ALEXIS: When you start seeing the bodies in the sea, somebody that I knew that an hour ago they were breathing, and suddenly they're dead and they're And it was very distressing.
I mean, it took me a very long time to put it out of my mind.
Um, it was very difficult.
25 people are now confirmed dead.
As victims continue to arrive, Dr Polyzoides is overwhelmed.
Do I go to this room and try and save someone? Do I wait and see whether he's worth saving? And it was like a catastrophe.
It was as if it was coming the end of the world for to this island.
So it was almost like you're seeing a movie.
It's not happening to you.
Every half an hour the number of bodies increased.
By 2:30am, the number of dead reaches 60.
There's no room for so many bodies in the medical centre.
The church of St Nicholas on the waterfront now becomes a temporary morgue.
The search for people, alive or dead, continues right through the night.
Very soon, investigators will begin to ask tough questions.
Who's to blame for the sinking? Why did so many people have to die? The passenger ferry 'Express Samina' has sunk in a storm in the Aegean Sea.
Already 60 people are confirmed dead.
Many more need medical treatment.
Morning reveals the power of last night's storm.
A lifeboat lies smashed to pieces on the rocks.
Life rafts blew away empty.
A message board at the harbour front lists who's alive and who's still missing.
Bodies will continue to wash up on the beaches for days to come.
There aren't enough coffins on Paros.
More arrive.
Even the most experienced professionals are touched by the trauma.
I was so shaken by this that I didn't sleep for two nights.
And on the third night, when I went to sleep, I dreamt that my son was drowning.
Very quickly, the grief turns to anger.
Where were the crew when the ship hit the rocks? Where were they when the passengers needed help? Rumours spread like wildfire and are picked up by the media.
Were some members of the crew watching the soccer game on TV when they should have been steering the ship? The captain, 53-year-old Vasilis Yiannakis, is held for questioning by the police.
On Paros, the funerals begin - here, a 4-year-old boy, drowned with his father.
Divers discover 10 bodies trapped inside the hull of the 'Samina'.
The last body is found floating two weeks after the sinking, 50km north of Paros.
Altogether 80 people have died - 75 passengers, 5 crew members.
This is Greece's worst shipping disaster in more than 30 years - a national tragedy.
In the bitter aftermath, the spotlight falls on the company which owned the 'Samina' and its vice-president, Pantelis Sfinias.
He could face criminal charges, as well as multimillion-dollar compensation claims.
Two months after the sinking, police surround a body lying on the sidewalk outside company headquarters in Athens.
Sfinias has jumped out of his sixth-floor window, committing suicide.
Maritime experts at the National Technical University of Athens begin an inquiry.
Detailed testimony is gathered from 46 crew members as well as 192 passengers.
The Greek legal authorities want the university to give them a thorough explanation of what happened.
Professor David Molyneux, of the National Research Centre of Canada, is one of the world's leading experts on ferry safety.
He studied the findings of the Greek investigators, who came up with a startling realisation.
MAN: What they found at the inquiry defied some of the initial speculation concerning the age of the ship, and the accident, in fact, turned out to be caused by something completely different.
Testimony reveals each small but critical factor that, together, turn a routine ferry crossing into a national disaster.
Three hours into the journey, the crew switch on the ship's autopilot.
The autopilot is an electronic link between the compass and the rudder, correcting the rudder a little bit one way or the other to bring you back where you want to be.
Even on autopilot, a crew member should constantly monitor the ship's position.
It's bad practice to leave an autopilot unattended, particularly in bad weather, because the wind, the waves and the current are all acting to drift the ship in one direction.
And that kind of steady drift is not compensated for by the electronics in the autopilot.
As the weather grows worse, the crew deploy the ship's stabiliser system to make the ride more comfortable for the passengers.
The stabiliser uses two small fins to counteract the roll of the ship.
But something extraordinary has happened.
Only the starboard, or right-hand, stabiliser fin has extended.
Very unusual.
Normally we'd expect both stabilisers to be working at any one time.
With just one stabiliser, the ship is no longer symmetrical, so the flow around the ship is unbalanced, and as a result, the ship will tend to drift one way, rather than go in a straight line.
With only the starboard stabiliser, the 'Samina' is pulled slowly but surely to the right.
It's a deadly malfunction.
Captains aim to stay at least 740m left of the Gates of Paros.
But when the 'Samina' arrives she's on collision course.
A crew member makes a last-minute attempt to steer the ship to the left but the ship can't turn quickly enough.
Whoa! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! It was very unfortunate the ship got hulled, but there was really no reason why the ship should have sank.
The damage was within the range that you would normally expect a ship to survive.
The east face of the taller pinnacle is where the ship strikes at 10:12pm.
There's a 6-metre lengthways gash, as long as a telephone pole and 1 metre wide.
But this hole is well above the waterline.
No water should enter the ship.
Moments later, a second impact.
The stabiliser fin bends backwards.
It stabs like a dagger through the ship's side.
Oh, my God.
This 3-metre gash IS below the waterline.
Even worse, it's exactly alongside the engine room.
The main generators are knocked out.
Electrical power is cut throughout the ship.
PASSENGERS SCREAM The investigating team orders divers to make a detailed survey of the wreck of the 'Samina'.
Inside they discover the final piece of the puzzle.
Even with two large holes, the ship could have been saved.
One final error sealed the fate of the Samina.
The passenger ferry 'Express Samina' strikes rocks near the Greek island of Paros.
With two gaping holes in her starboard side, she capsizes and sinks in 38m of water.
Divers go down to survey the wreck and make a startling discovery.
Like all large seagoing ships, the 'Samina' is divided into separate compartments, sealed by watertight doors like this one.
Safety laws insist they remain locked while the ship's at sea.
On the 'Samina's last journey, some of the doors were open.
DAVID: If you imagine, in your house, every time you went through a door from the kitchen, you had to close it, lock it, move on to the living room, open that door, close it, lock it and carry on, it really does slow down your everyday life.
So there is a tendency, sometimes, to leave these doors open.
Because they're left open, water is no longer confined to the engine room.
And now that the power is cut, the crew can't close the doors remotely.
29 of the crew are called back for a second grilling by investigators.
This testimony provides an exact picture of the ship's last moments - data which is now built into a computer model.
At 10:15, three minutes after the collision, the ship is listing only 5 degrees to the right, but filling fast through that hole in the engine room.
By 10:25, she's listing 14 degrees.
Now the 6-metre gash, which was above the waterline, is exposed to the sea.
This is the point where the 'Samina' and 80 of those on board are doomed.
The ship can't withstand this degree of damage.
The 'Samina' is what's called a 'RORO' ferry.
It stands for 'roll-on roll-off'.
This is a modern RORO ship.
Vehicles simply reverse in through the stern doors and then drive out at their destination.
It's a cost-effective design with a potentially fatal flaw.
The worst shipping disasters in recent times have involved vessels designed this way.
The 'Herald of Free Enterprise' went down with the loss of 193 lives at Zeebrugge, in Belgium, in 1987.
850 were drowned aboard the RORO ferry 'Estonia' in the Baltic Sea in 1994.
Unlike a cruise ship or a cargo vessel, which are divided into many smaller compartments, the vehicle deck of a RORO ship is one large, open area, highly vulnerable to rapid flooding.
Imagine comparing flooding an egg box with flooding just an empty cardboard shoe box.
The shoe box would tend to fill up very, very quickly, whereas an egg box would tend to fill up each compartment at a time, and so the egg box would stay afloat whereas the shoe box wouldn't.
This open space is especially vulnerable because it's so close to the waterline.
The car deck on a RORO ferry is low, to make driving the vehicles on and off easy.
As a result, you're relying on those watertight compartments to keep the ship afloat in the event of damage.
By 10:29, the 'Samina' is listing 23 degrees.
She's now tilting so much that it's impossible to launch more lifeboats.
Only three of the eight she carried got away.
Three minutes later, at 10:32, she's listing 33 degrees.
At around 10:50, the ship turns completely on her side.
We know the exact time that the ship sank because the clock on the bridge was stopped at 11:02.
Divers surveying the wreck make their most important discovery.
Of the ship's 11 watertight doors, 9 were left open.
And the most important aspect of this accident was leaving the watertight doors open.
As a result, the ship flooded, it lost all its reserve of buoyancy and eventually sank.
If the doors had been locked, despite the navigational error which put the ship on the rocks, despite the hole in the engine room, this would probably have been a survivable accident.
The trial of ship's captain Vasilis Yiannakis and seven others began in May 2005, more than four years after the disaster.
The sinking of the 'Samina' lead to safety improvements.
Greece cut the maximum working life of passenger ferries from 35 to 30 years.
The tragedy also helped speed the introduction of voyage recorders, like an airplane black box.
They're now mandatory in all passenger ferries.
Some good came out of bad.
For the first time since those dramatic events, Katrina Stark has come back to Paros.
It's an emotional return.
KATRINA: It was a pretty traumatic thing to go through, but it's quite a character-building experience, and I think it plays a large part in who I am today.
For their role in helping to save lives, Heidi Hart and Christine Shannon were given an award for heroism by the City of Seattle.
CHRISTINE: I understand my strength a lot more and I can livefreely .
without the restraints of being scared of what's unknown, because life is an unknown.
Even for a heroine, it's tough to look back.
HEIDI: Christine and I, we always say, "We were the lucky ones.
" We were in the right place at the right time, and thatthat is the only thing I can think of why we made it and so many other people didn't.
And it breaks my heart.
Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre