Passenger missing from ferry fire found alive as blaze continues

Firefighters have been trying for days to contain the fire and cool scorching temperatures on the 183-metre (600ft) ship. Photograph: Voula Pappa/In Time News/AFP via Getty Images


Fire fighters battling a blaze on a ferry sailing from Greece to Italy discovered a survivor on the stern of the still burning vessel on Sunday, the Greek coast guard said, reviving hopes that other missing passengers could still be found alive.

Rescuers managed to take at least 281 out of 292 passengers and crew to safety after the blaze broke out on the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia early on Friday, but 11 people are still missing, according to the coast guard and ferry operator.

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

“Firefighters are still battling the fire and crews are searching for more people,” the fire brigade said.

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

The ferry had been on its way to the Italian port of Brindisi from Igoumenitsa in Greece. Many of the passengers were truck owners or drivers transporting goods through Europe.

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 up a stepladder to the vessel after a tug boat towed it closer to the shore.

“Since one person is rescued, we are optimistic that more survivors can be found,” Greek coastguard spokesman Nikos Alexiou told Skai TV.

Aerial footage released by the Greek coastguard on Friday showed rows of burnt trucks on the blackened deck after flames engulfed 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