Passenger found alive on Greece-Italy ferry after fire, 11 still missing

  • One passenger found alive on Sunday, 11 still missing
  • Rescuers are optimistic there could be more survivors
  • Firefighters battle flames on ferry for third day

CORFU, Greece, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Firefighters battling a blaze on a Greece-Italy ferry discovered a survivor in the stern of the ship still ablaze on Sunday, the Greek coast guard said, reviving the hope that other missing passengers might still be found alive.

Rescuers managed to get at least 281 of the 292 passengers and crew to safety after the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia burned down early on Friday, but 11 people are still missing, according to the Coast Guard and the ferry operator.

Firefighters have been trying for days to contain the blaze and cool the scorching temperatures on the 183-metre (600ft) ship to allow emergency crews to board and rescue survivors. Authorities have not announced a toll.

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“Firefighters are still battling the blaze and crews are looking for others,” firefighters said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and a prosecutor has opened an investigation, according to coast guard officials.

The ferry was en route to the Italian port of Brindisi from Igoumenitsa in Greece. Many passengers were truck owners or drivers transporting goods across Europe.

Smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, which sailed from Greece to Italy early on Friday and caught fire, off Corfu, Greece, February 19, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

The man rescued on Sunday was from Belarus, according to the coast guard, while those still missing are Bulgarian, Turkish and Greek nationals.

Reuters footage showed rescuers climbing a stepladder to the ship after a tugboat towed it closer to shore.

“Since one person was rescued, we are optimistic that other survivors can be found,” Greek Coast Guard spokesman Nikos Alexiou told Skai TV.

Aerial footage released by the Greek Coastguard on Friday showed rows of burnt-out trucks on the blackened deck after flames engulfed the vessel. The ferry was carrying 153 vehicles, the company said.

A group of truckers who survived the ordeal returned to Bulgaria in the early hours of Sunday.

“Once we were in the boats, we saw the huge flames. Everything burned, the losses are great, but I’m glad we’re alive and we’ll see our families again,” truck driver Rumen said. Cholakov on Bulgarian television Nova.

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Additional reporting by Stamos Prousalis in Corfu, Angeliki Koutantou in Athens and Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia; Written by Renée Maltezou; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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