Italy ferry fire: Scores awaiting rescue

Italy ferry fire: Scores awaiting rescue

Italy ferry fire: Scores awaiting rescue

Written by Staff Writer

29 Dec, 2014 | 9:40 am


An Italian ferry which caught fire on route to Italy with 478 people on board is being evacuated in choppy seas and high winds.Rescue operations are continuing despite massive waves and strong winds. The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, said it would be a “long night”. Around 200 people have already been airlifted to safety – 478 in total were on board.

One person died after jumping from the ship and another has been confirmed injured, officials say. The blaze on board the Norman Atlantic, which was travelling from Patras in Greece to Ancona in Italy, reportedly started on the ferry’s car deck before spreading. Passengers described panicking as the heat rose, then freezing as they stood on decks awaiting rescue.

The wife of one of the cooks told journalists she had had a call from her husband saying: “I cannot breathe, we are all going to burn like rats – God save us.” Another passenger told Greek TV station Mega: “We are outside, we are very cold, the ship is full of smoke, the boat is still burning, the floors are boiling, underneath the cabins it must be burning since 5 o’clock, the boats that came (to rescue us) are gone, and we are here. They cannot take us.”

Helicopters have been winching people to safety. Most have been transferred to nearby ships, although some have been taken directly to hospital for treatment for hypothermia. Nearby merchant vessels aligned themselves in formation to protect the ship from waves and facilitate the rescue.

The chief executive of the Visentini group that owns the vessel, Carlo Visentini, said the ferry had passed a recent technical inspection despite a “slight malfunction” in one of the fire doors, Italy’s Ansa news agency reports. “The tests confirmed that the boat was in full working order,” he said, adding that the fire door had been repaired “to the satisfaction of the inspectors”. Ferries are an important mode of transport between Greece’s hundreds of islands as well as neighbouring countries.

Source : BBC


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