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Lakonia Survivors Say Crew Panicked, Left Them To Die

Dec. 24, 1963 - Embittered survivors of the burnt-out Greek cruise liner Lakonia who landed in Madeira today said the crew panicked and left them to save themselves as the ship burned and exploded. Weary and bedraggled, several hundred Britons and Americans piled ashore from the Argentine freighter Salta after being snatched from the sea 180 miles north of Madeira in the eastern Atlantic. Arriving passengers claimed they had to fight crewmen for places in the lifeboats. An 80-year-old Briton said the officers and stewards “did their duty perfectly, but I cannot say much for some other members of the crew.” UPI quoted a woman passenger as saying that some crewmen took advantage of the chaos to loot her cabin. Mrs. J. Wilkinson of Wimbledon, England, said, “The crew broke into our cabin with hatchets and stole anything they could lay their hands on.” Several American and British passengers declared there were disgraceful lapses in discipline and that normal safety precautions for lifeboats had been violated on the Christmas cruise that ended in tragedy Sunday night. Passengers demanded a full investigation. “I am going to take it up with my lawyer,” said Ivan Buchanan of Atlanta, Ga., a consultant with the U.S. Air Force who is a native of North Adams, Mass. “It was a terrible shock. The crew was horrible.”


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