Update: Burning Norman Atlantic Evacuated, Death Count Rises
Italian and Greek rescue crews on Monday completed the air evacuation of 427 people from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, a roro/passenger ferry that caught fire off the coast of Greece in the early hours of Sunday. 10 people died in the accident, with the number of missing still to be determined, Italy’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement.
During a press conference, Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Maurizio Lupi said that of the 427 people saved 56 are crew members (22 Italians and Greeks 34), 234 Greeks, 54 Turks, 22 Albanians, 22 Italians, 18 Germans, 10 Swiss, followed by other passengers of different nationalities, although at the time there was still some uncertainty about the exact number of people on board.
‘‘There is a list of boarding and there are the names of 427 people rescued, including 56 crew members and the rest of the passengers. The port of embarkation must now verify the correspondence of the lists. Precisely because of this it is still premature to indicate the possible number of missing in the sinking,” said minister Lupi.
However, ANEK Lines, the operator of the ferry, said that at the time of the accident, there were 475 people on board.
The Norman Atlantic was impounded on Monday evening, and the Italian and Albanian authorities are cooperating to decide which port the fire-stricken ferry should be towed to.
Italian and Greek authorities started sea rescue operations on Sunday, but the initial efforts were impeded by bad weather which made it impossible for ships to approach the ferry. The Italian and Greek helicopter crews started airlifting operations Sunday afternoon.
The Norman Atlantic is owned by the Italian company VISEMAR di Navigazione S.R.L. At the time of the accident, the vessel was on the Patras – Igoumenitsa – Ancona route, 35 miles north of Corfu, sailing in international waters.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: Guardia Costiera