Monday, 29 December 2014

Italy ferry: 'Up to 38 still missing' amid confusion over Norman Atlantic passenger list, death toll rises to 8

The death toll in the Italian car ferry fire shipwreck in the Adriatic climbed to eight today as a Greek report said as many as 38 people may still be missing.

The latest figures released by the Italian coast guard said eight people had died after the fire broke out in the Norman Atlantic Sunday and that 407 people had been rescued.

Earlier Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi heartily congratulated Italian rescuers on averting a "hecatomb" and said everyone had been rescued from the ferry.

However the respected Greek online weekly To VIma reported that as many as 38 people were still missing from the ferry.

Italian transport minister Maurizio Lupi admitted at a news conference that authorities are uncertain how many people who were evacuated from lifeboats had been tipped into the sea Sunday.

He also said that while the ship was officially carrying 478 people including 56 crew some survivors picked up were not on the passenger list. Mr Renzi earlier on Monday during a news conference said there may have been illegal immigrants who were stowaways aboard the ferry.

Mr Renzi told the last man to leave the ship was Captain Argilio Giacomazzi, saying “there is only the captain [left on board], who like all serious captains is the last to abandon ship”.

Captain Argilio Giacomazzi later disembarked from the ship, handing over to Italian navy officers at 2.50pm on Monday.

Mr Renzi also paid tribute to the firefighters, Navy personnel and other rescuers who raced to the ship off Corfu using helicopters, motor launches and tugs.

“An intervention full of passion, dedication and tenaciousness allowed us to avert a real hecatomb,” he said. “We expect to end the rescue operation within a few hours.”

The fire broke out on the car deck of the five-year-old ferry at dawn, as it was passing 44 nautical miles north of Corfu, destroying the ship’s steering mechanism and leaving it drifting towards the Albanian coast.

The car ferry had been sailing from Patras in Greece and Ancona in northern Italy.

Photographs showed flames spreading quickly through the decks as passengers began to evacuate. Roughly 120 people were able to leave the ship, and were picked up by a nearby freighter, before the fire cut off access to the lifeboats.

Monday 29 December 2014


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