| 22 April 2024, Monday |

Greece reports first fatality after blaze on ferry, 10 still missing

Firefighters battling a blaze aboard a ferry going from Greece to Italy for the third day found the corpse of a missing passenger on Sunday, according to Greek officials.

It is the first recorded fatality after rescuers were able to save at least 281 out of 292 passengers and crew from a fire that broke out aboard the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia early Friday.

The ferry was on its way from Igoumenitsa in Greece to the Italian port of Brindisi when it was engulfed by flames in the Ionian Sea off the island of Corfu.

Many of the passengers were truck owners or drivers transporting goods through Europe.

The dead man was found in the cabin of a truck in the ship’s hold and had suffered serious burns, a fire brigade official said.

A total of 10 people, all Bulgarian, Turkish and Greek nationals, are still missing, according to the coastguard.

Earlier on Sunday rescue teams found a survivor, a man from Belarus, at the stern of the ferry, according to the coastguard, reviving hopes that other missing passengers could still be found alive.

Firefighters have been trying for days to contain the fire and cool scorching temperatures on the 183-metre (600 ft) ship to allow emergency crews to board and rescue any survivors.

The cause of the blaze is still being investigated and a prosecutor has launched an inquiry, according to coastguard officials.

Reuters footage showed rescuers climbing a stepladder to the vessel after a tug boat towed it closer to the shore.

Aerial footage released by the Greek coastguard on Friday showed rows of burnt trucks on the blackened deck after flames swept through the ship. The ferry was carrying 153 vehicles, the company said.

A group of truck drivers who survived the ordeal arrived back in Bulgaria in the early hours of Sunday.

“Once we were in the boats we saw the huge flames. Everything burned, the losses are big, but I am glad we are alive and we will see our families,” truck driver Rumen Cholakov told Bulgarian Nova TV.

  • Reuters