Passenger ferry evacuated after fire breaks out off Greece – Telegraph.co.uk
The ferry that set out from the northern Greek port of Igomenitsa was due to
arrive at the Adriatic port of Ancona on Sunday afternoon at 5pm local time.
Rescue operations are being coordinated by the coast guard at Bari and also
involve the Italian Navy, a Greek army helicopter and coast guard
helicopters from Sicily.
The Italianflagged ship is managed by the Agenzia Archibugi company from
Ancona in the Marche region.
Most of the passengers were lorry drivers but some were families with
children, according to radio reports reaching Bari.
The fire started just before dawn when the ferry was around 15 nautical miles
from the Albanian port of Valona.
“The weather conditions are not good, we are working with great
difficulty, we hope that everything will be alright,” said Nikos
Dendias, the Greek Defence minister.
File photograph of the vessel Norman Atlantic (PAOLO GANGEMI/REUTERS)
“We are following the affair of the ferry between Greece and Italy, in
contact with (Greek) premier Samaras and there is maximum involvement of our
Navy,” said Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister.
Passengers who telephoned Greek television stations gave dramatic accounts of
“They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is
no coordination,” one said. “It’s dark, the bottom of the vessel
is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching… we opened
some boxes and got some life vests, we are trying to save ourselves.”
It was unclear whether there had been any casualties or whether any passengers
were in the water, where cold winter temperatures would make survival
difficult unless rescue came quickly.