ATHENS (Reuters) - A 36-year-old man who tried to board a passenger ship as it sailed from Greece's Piraeus port on Tuesday drowned after being pushed back by crew members off the vessel's stern ramp, the country's shipping minister said on Wednesday.
The incident has shocked the country. Video footage released on social media showed crew members arguing with the man on the stern ramp just as the ferry was leaving Piraeus for the island of Crete.
Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said on Wednesday that the man, who had bought a ticket, had boarded the ship before disembarking for unknown reasons and then tried to board again, which was when he was pushed back by crew members and fell into the sea just as the ship departed.
"I feel shock and horror for what has happened," Varvitsiotis told Parapolitika radio station. "The images are revealing and shocking. I also feel great sadness for the loss of the 36-year-old man."
Varvitsiotis said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that "there is no doubt that the crime was homicide". He added that four people have been detained over the incident, which is being investigated by a prosecutor.
In two separate statements on Wednesday, the ship's owner Attica Group said that its management was "shocked by the tragic incident" and that it was cooperating with authorities to help shed light on the case.
"The scenes we all witnessed last night are unthinkable and do not conform with the group's values," it said, adding that the group was also investigating internally why "clear, defined procedures which must be strictly followed by the crews of all our ships were not followed."
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)