Rescue operations on as Italian ferry catches fire off Greece


Norman Atlantic

Around 330 passengers have been rescued from the Italian ferry that caught fire off the west coast of Greece, in the Adriatic Sea.

There are more than 100 people still stranded on board even as the rescue teams are working to airlift passengers.

According to media reports, one person has died while trying to escape from the vessel and four were injured in the Sunday incident.

The Italy-flagged ferry Norman Atlantic was on its way from the Greek city of Igoumenitsa to the Italian port of Ancona, carrying 422 passengers and 56 crew members. The vessel was chartered by Greek ferry operator Anek Lines.

The fire broke out in the parking area of the vessel, which was carrying more than 200 cars.

"The visibility is poor and the weather conditions are difficult, but we are confident because there are a good number of ships in the area."

The passengers were asleep on their cabins when the fire alarms sounded and they gathered on the top deck to get away from the blaze, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Two Italian air force helicopters, one Greek Superpuma helicopter and an Italian airplane have been pressed into rescue operations along with 10 ships.

Greek Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said that the rescue operation was complex due to the bad weather.

Varvitsiotis was quoted by BBC News as saying: "This is a complicated rescue mission. The visibility is poor and the weather conditions are difficult, but we are confident because there are a good number of ships in the area."

The ship has been towed to the southern Italian port of Brindisi, Reuters reported.


Image: File photo of Norman Atlantic that caught fire off Greece. Photo: courtesy of Eustace Bagge.