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Burned-Out Ferry Arrives In Italian Port After Fire That Killed 11

Bari prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe said it is possible more bodies will be found on the vessel.

Originally posted on
Updated on

What We Know So Far

  • A car ferry caught fire off the coast of Greece on Sunday.
  • 11 people died in the fire, including two Albanian sailors who died in the rescue mission.
  • The ferry was carrying about 422 passengers and 56 crew members.
  • All passengers were evacuated by 7:45 a.m. ET Monday.
  • The ferry arrived in port in Brindisi, Italy on Friday.

Updates

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The burned-out Norman Atlantic ferry arrived in port in Brindisi, Italy on Friday.

Ciro De Luca / Reuters

The car ferry Norman Atlantic is seen on its way to Brindisi harbour, after a fire in waters off Greece January 2, 2015.

Tug boats took the ferry back to shore after a fire earlier in the week killed 11 people. Investigators will now look into the cause of the blaze, EuroNews said.

Ciro De Luca / Reuters

The car ferry Norman Atlantic is seen hauled by tug boats on its way to Brindisi harbour, after a fire in waters off Greece January 2, 2015.

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The Greek Coast Guard released a video showing the rescue operation of the Norman Atlantic.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com
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Greek Coast Guard speaks with captain of cargo ship that sent distress signal.

Greek news outlets are reporting the Greek Coast Guard has spoken with the captain of the cargo ship that issued a distress call, and he said no one is in danger. According to Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the captain said they are in need of food supplies.

The ship, which reportedly has up to 600 migrants on it, will be inspected once it arrives in Italy. The ship is no longer in Greek water.

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Prosecutors order ferry back to Italy.

Italian prosecutors ordered the Norman Atlantic ship back to Italy as part of a criminal investigation. Bari Prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe said it is feared more bodies will be found aboard the vessel, which is currently off the Albanian coast.

Using the ship's Italian owner and captain, Italy secured jurisdiction over the case from Albanian authorities, according to the New York Times.

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Greek authorities say a cargo ship believed to be carrying hundreds of migrants has issued a distress call in bad weather northwest of the Ionian island of Corfu Tuesday.Greek officials said a Greek frigate that was in the area and a navy helicopter are heading to the area. The ship is believed to be carrying as many as 600 migrants.
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Two Albanian tugboat sailors died during the rescue operations, the AP reported.

They were part of the operations to secure the ferry.

The sailors were apparently hit by a line that they had been trying to attach to the crippled, fire-blackened Norman Atlantic, said Dionis Dulaj, the police spokesman in the Albanian port town of Vlore, closest to where the 186-meter (610-foot) -long ferry has been drifting.

Defense Ministry spokeswoman Edlira Prendi announced the deaths. One man had quickly been confirmed dead while a medical team had worked on the second but could not save him.
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Passengers rescued off the burning ferry recounted the chaos that ensued as the fire spread through the cabin.

Passengers said they received no direction from the crew as they tried to escape fire and billowing smoke.

"Everyone there was trampling on each other to get onto the helicopter," Greek truck driver Christos Perlis told the Associated Press by phone.

Amid the chaos, pushing and shoving quickly turned to blows as passengers fought for seats in lifeboats and helicopter baskets.

"The jungle law prevailed," another Greek passenger, Irene Varsioti, told the AP. "There was no queue or order. No respect was shown for children."

Among the 10 people killed during the chaos was a 62-year-old Greek man who reportedly died of hypothermia after he and his wife fell into the water while trying to reach a lifeboat.

His wife, Teodora Douli, 56, told Ansa news agency that they were in the water for four hours.

"I tried to save him but I didn't succeed," she said. "He told me, 'Dying, we are dying.'"

Italian and Greek helicopter crews eventually evacuated the ship, but rescuers continued to comb through the lower decks and in the water for possible victims amid confusion over how many people were aboard.

The vessel's operator, Anek Lines, said 475 people were onboard, but Italian officials said the names on the ship's manifest may have represented just reservations, not actual passengers who boarded.

Prosecutors in Bari have since opened an investigation into the disaster, Ansa reported.

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The Italian Coast Guard said another two bodies were found, bringing to death toll to 10. Italian and Greek authorities are working to find any missing passengers.

#NormanAtlantic Continuano i contatti con le autorità greche e le ricerche di eventuali dispersi. Ritrovati altri 2 corpi.

Guardia Costiera@guardiacostieraFollow

#NormanAtlantic Continuano i contatti con le autorità greche e le ricerche di eventuali dispersi. Ritrovati altri 2 corpi.

1:48 PM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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Search efforts will continue to locate any possible missing passengers.

In addition to the eight people who died, 427 people were rescued from the Norman Atlantic, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said in a press conference. That makes 435 people accounted for.

According to the passenger list released yesterday by the Greek authorities, there were 478 people on the ship, meaning more than 40 people could be unaccounted for.

Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said it is unclear whether the list released yesterday was accurate, since the ferry made a stop on a Greek island before the fire broke out.

Lupi said they will continue with search efforts as "we cannot know what the exact number" of passengers was. Military planes will continue to fly over the area surrounding the ferry checking for bodies.

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The death toll has risen to eight, according to the Associated Press, citing Italian officials.

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Two more bodies have been found, bringing the death toll to seven, according to the Italian Coast Guard.

#NormanAtlantic Trovati altri 2 corpi. Il totale dei morti sale a 7.

Guardia Costiera@guardiacostieraFollow

#NormanAtlantic Trovati altri 2 corpi. Il totale dei morti sale a 7.

9:29 AM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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The Italian Coast Guard confirmed all passengers were evacuated from the ship. Nine crew members remain on board to inspect the vessel.

#NormanAtlantic tutti i passeggeri evacuati. A bordo restano 9 persone dell'equipaggio per ispezionare la nave.

Guardia Costiera@guardiacostieraFollow

#NormanAtlantic tutti i passeggeri evacuati. A bordo restano 9 persone dell'equipaggio per ispezionare la nave.

7:26 AM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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Officials from the Greek Coast Guard have now confirmed that the death toll from the ferry fire has now reached five.

Death toll from #NormanAtlantic ferry fire reaches 5 as more bodies found - Greek officials http://t.co/7s1DMBlD2f

BBC Breaking News@BBCBreakingFollow

Death toll from #NormanAtlantic ferry fire reaches 5 as more bodies found - Greek officials http://t.co/7s1DMBlD2f

6:16 AM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The Greek Coast Guard also tweeted that 407 passengers have now been rescued from the Norman Atlantic.

ΣΤΟΥΣ 407 ΑΝΕΡΧΕΤΑΙ Ο ΣΥΝΟΛΙΚΟΣ ΑΡΙΘΜΟΣ ΔΙΑΣΩΘΕΝΤΩΝ ΤΟΥ NORMAN ATLANTIC ΜΕΧΡΙ ΣΤΙΓΜΗΣ.

Α/ΛΣ - ΕΛΑΚΤ@HCoastGuardFollow

ΣΤΟΥΣ 407 ΑΝΕΡΧΕΤΑΙ Ο ΣΥΝΟΛΙΚΟΣ ΑΡΙΘΜΟΣ ΔΙΑΣΩΘΕΝΤΩΝ ΤΟΥ NORMAN ATLANTIC ΜΕΧΡΙ ΣΤΙΓΜΗΣ.

6:14 AM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Posted at

A Greek minister has confirmed that four bodies have been recovered from the stricken ferry, AFP reported.

#BREAKING: Four bodies recovered in blaze-hit Italy ferry disaster: Greek minister

Agence France-Presse@AFPFollow

#BREAKING: Four bodies recovered in blaze-hit Italy ferry disaster: Greek minister

10:55 AM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

A Greek passenger is already known to have died after falling into the water during the rescue operation, Sky News said.

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Three hundred and fifty-one people have now been rescued, with 127 still aboard the Norman Atlantic.

#BREAKING Update 10.30am #NormanAtlantic 351 people rescued, 127 on board. On the scene also De La Penne's #helicopter #MarinaMilitare

Marina Militare@ItalianNavyFollow

#BREAKING Update 10.30am #NormanAtlantic 351 people rescued, 127 on board. On the scene also De La Penne's #helicopter #MarinaMilitare

4:57 AM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Many of those rescued were taken to port on board container ships. Below, passengers disembark the Spirit of Piraeus container ship in Bari harbor, Italy, on Monday morning.

Stringer/Italy / Reuters

A firefighter carries a child from the Spirit of Piraeus cargo container ship as they arrive at Bari harbour, after the car ferry Norman Atlantic caught fire in waters off Greece, Dec. 29.

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The Italian Navy has said that 316 people have now been rescued from the ferry, with 162 still on board.

#BREAKING Update #NormanAtlantic rescue by Italian Navy: 316 people rescued, 162 still on board the #ferry

Marina Militare@ItalianNavyFollow

#BREAKING Update #NormanAtlantic rescue by Italian Navy: 316 people rescued, 162 still on board the #ferry

8:10 AM - 29 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The BBC reported that the first rescue ship, which was carrying 49 people, arrived in the Italian port of Bari early on Monday morning.

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The floors were so hot, the soles of passengers' shoes were reportedly melting:

1 dead, hundreds stranded in Greek #FerryFire. Some pulled to safety, report floors so hot soles of shoes are melting

Heather Holmes@hholmesktvuFollow

1 dead, hundreds stranded in Greek #FerryFire. Some pulled to safety, report floors so hot soles of shoes are melting

9:23 PM - 28 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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From the Italian Coast Guard:

impegnati anche aereo Manta 10-03 e motovedette CP 310 e CP 263. Coordina i soccorsi la Centrale operativa di Roma

Guardia Costiera@guardiacostieraFollow

impegnati anche aereo Manta 10-03 e motovedette CP 310 e CP 263. Coordina i soccorsi la Centrale operativa di Roma

5:03 PM - 28 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

#NormanAtlantic Le persone tratte in salvo salgono a 175. Proseguono le operazioni di soccorso.

Guardia Costiera@guardiacostieraFollow

#NormanAtlantic Le persone tratte in salvo salgono a 175. Proseguono le operazioni di soccorso.

3:48 PM - 28 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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So far, 190 people have been airlifted to safety or transferred to another boat, the Associated Press reported. There were 478 on board, officials said.