A senior executive at the shipping company which owned a Greek ferry that sank in September killing 80 people, plunged to his death from the sixth floor of his office building on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Police said Pantelis Sfinias, vice president of the board of directors of Minoan Flying Dolphins
, a subsidiary of Minoan Lines, was seen by passers-by and employees stepping off the building in the port of Piraeus. The Express Samina sank off the island of Paros with 500 people aboard in Greece's worst maritime tragedy in decades. Police said they believed Sfinias's death was a suicide.
"When the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital he was already dead," a police official said.
News of Sfinias's death shocked the company and the Athens Stock Exchange. Minoan Lines stock
hit effective limit down, dropping by 11.98 percent. "The market reacted to the news. It is tragic," said Thanassis Margielos, an analyst at Attalos Securities. The government said an investigation had begun into the "dramatic suicide".
"The conditions under which the event took place are being investigated," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
The Express Samina sank after crashing into well-charted rocks just before reaching port at the Aegean island of Paros. Its captain and second officer were charged with manslaughter and other lesser charges.
A public prosecutor also brought blanket charges of "endangering passengers resulting in death" against anyone at the shipping company found responsible for the accident. Prosecutor Dimitris Dadinopoulos did not name anyone at the time but said further investigation was needed to determine whether anyone at the company was responsible. Sfinias had defended his company, telling media it could not be blamed for a mistake on the ship's bridge.
The captain said he was taking a nap shortly before the crash and his number two told investigators he tried to steer the ship away from the rocks but bad weather prevented him. Survivors described chaotic scenes during the sinking, with passengers plunging into dark stormy waters, often without life jackets. Many complained the crew was unhelpful and life-saving equipment inadequate. The sinking prompted the Merchant Marine Ministry to ban dozens of ferries from sailing until they upgraded their safety standards.