At Least 1 Dead in Greek Ferry Fire; 100s Remain Trapped

  • Publicado domingo 28 diciembre 2014 | 20:51 GMT -3
  • Europa
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Athenas 2812Athenas, December 28, 2014.- The Italian Coast Guard said at least one person has died while attempting to escape a burning car ferry off the Greek island of Corfu.

Coast guard officials said they have recovered the body, which is being transported by Italian rescuers to Italy.

Hundreds of passengers remain trapped on the vessel as Greek and Italian helicopters attempt to reach the stricken, Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic ferry in a rescue effort hampered by gale-force winds and high seas.

A flotilla of nearby merchant ships formed a protective barrier around the stricken ship as firefighting vessels headed to the boat from both sides of the Adriatic Sea.

Firefighting vessels
Meanwhile, Greek and Italian firefighting vessels headed to the boat from both sides of the Adriatic Sea.

The fire broke out on the car deck of the Norman Atlantic, traveling from the western Greek port of Patras to the Italian port of Ancona.

Coast Guard spokesman Nikos Lagadianos said about 150 of the nearly 500 passengers on board have made their way to safety.

«From the 478 passengers and crew, 150 have already been transferred to a lifeboat that has been lowered and 42 have been transferred from the ship to the safety of the Spirit of Piraeus ship that is nearby. In the area the weather conditions are very bad with nine scale winds, hail and rain,» Lagadianos said.

High winds
Greek Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said the bad weather, with winds up to 88 kilometers per hour, has made the rescue very difficult.

«It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done and for which the assistance of multiple forces is needed,» Varvitsiotis said.

«Fortunately the ships sailing nearby are sufficient to give us optimism that we have enough forces on the spot to save the human lives that in no case do we want to put at greater risk,» Varvitsiotis said.

The ferry was 80 kilometers northwest of the island of Corfu Sunday when it sent a distress signal after a fire started in the lower deck.

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