VIDEO: Hundreds rescued after major fire on ferry in Greece
Hundreds of people have been rescued after a blaze erupted on a ferry sailing from Greece to Italy, according to the Greek coast guard.
A total of 288 people were reported to have been on board Euroferry Olympia, which was en route from Igoumenitsa to Brindisi, when the fire broke near Corfu in the Ionian Sea. The captain requested passengers and crew leave the ship as the ferry became engulfed in smoke and flames.
Video taken at the scene and shared by Greek public broadcaster ERT shows the scale of the fire as it raged aboard Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia. Searchlights comb the area and a “mayday” warning blasts from speakers in the clip, which can be seen below.
The coast guard reports that 237 passengers and 51 crew members were on board the ferry, which is operated by Grimaldi Lines, and at least three coast guard vessels were involved in the rescue operation. Some passengers had been sleeping in their vehicles overnight.
“We were woken up around 4.20am. Within an hour we had left the ship … We were saved by the crew, which acted fast,” one of the passengers told Skai TV via telephone.
Deputy Minister of Shipping Kostas Katasafados told Skai TV that all passengers and crew members have been rescued from the vessel and there are no injuries.
However, the BBC reports that not everyone was confirmed as having boarded the lifeboats. Evacuees are being taken to Corfu, and officials there still waiting to carry out a complete headcount, amid reports of a rescue operation taking place to free two people trapped on the car deck. Unconfirmed reports in Greek media say that 10 people are still missing.
The Greek Coastguard has released helicopter footage of the ferry, which can be seen below, as the fire continued to smoulder this morning.
While the cause of the fire is not yet known, Grimaldi Lines spokesman Paul Kyprianou told Reuters that there were indications it started from the ship’s hold.
“Damage is severe because despite the efforts the crew was unable to extinguish the fire,” he said.
In 2014, 10 people were killed when the car ferry Norman Atlantic caught fire while sailing from Greece to Italy with 466 passengers and crew on board.