Hundreds of ferry passengers were evacuated in an emergency after one of the largest Greek island tourist ships ran aground in darkness last night.
The Blue Star Ferries boat - carrying almost 300 people - crashed near Ios, a popular tourist spot for Brits in the Cyclades Islands near Santorini.
The vessel, the Patmos, was entering Ios Harbour at about 1.25am when the boat's hull was believed to have been punctured in shallow waters at the entrance to the port, near Valmas Beach.
Hellenic Coastguard officials told The Mirror that 205 passengers and 87 crew were onboard at the time.Hundreds of passengers were left stranded as the ship ran aground in darkness (Image: Patrick Lion)
Local media described the damage as a "hull breach" with water rushing inside.
Passengers were evacuated in darkness after smaller ferries and fisherman responded to the distress signal and arrived to help.
Those onboard were transferred to Ios.
Dimitra Kostopoulou, owner of the island's Petradi Hotel, told the Mirror she brought water down to the port after receiving calls from scared passengers as late as about 4am.
"People were calling hotel owners from the boat because they needed a place to stay," she said.
"They were a bit scared. They said the captain of the boat changed at Naxos and the new one was the captain and didn't know the waters here as well."
Master of the Ios Port, John Sakilianos, said his boats responded immediately to the emergency.
Other fishing boats, tourist boats and a larger ferry already at port also went to rescue the passengers and crew, he confirmed.Blue Star is one of the largest operators for tourists in the Greek islands (Image: Flickr)
Mr Sakilianos said: "Everybody is safe and nobody was hurt."
Water is said to have entered the ship but it was thought to have been brought under control.
Locals said a lighthouse was on the opposite headland near the port but not the one the boat ran aground.
The ferry was carrying 21 cars and 12 trucks - which are still stuck in the boat.
The ship is today still lodged just off the island's port inlet, appearing to be sitting awkwardly on the rocks at an angle out of the water.
Smaller ships have been seen examining it up close.
Expert divers were expected to inspect the damage to the hull this afternoon.
According to various reports on the island, the hole is anywhere between 3m and 15m wide.
The ship was said to be sailing from Piraeus in the Port of Athens to Santorini when the accident occurred.
Blue Star is one of the largest operators for tourists in the islands, with the 150-metre long Patmos capable of holding up to 2,000 passengers and 430 vehicles.