Trapped and hundreds rescued after fire engulfs Greek-Italian ferry

  • Ferry sailing from Igoumenitsa to the Italian port of Brindisi
  • Looks like a fire has broken out on hold – fleet spokesperson
  • There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or deaths

ATHENS (Reuters) – Two people were trapped on a ferry that caught fire as it sailed between Greece and Italy in the early hours of Friday morning, the Greek coast guard said, after dozens of other passengers and crew were rescued. .

The coast guard said a total of 239 passengers and 51 crew members were aboard the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, and most of them boarded rescue ships taking them to the port of Corfu island, where ambulances were waiting.

“We woke up at around 4:20 a.m. Within an hour we left the ship,” a passenger told Sky TV by phone. “We were rescued by the crew who acted quickly.”

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There were no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries. Local health authorities reported that a person with breathing problems was taken to hospital.

Greek media reported that at least 10 were missing. The authorities were unable to confirm the information, saying that the operation was continuing. Hours after the alarm was sounded, the ship was still ablaze.

“Two people are trapped in the garage and efforts are being made to lead them to the surface,” a Coast Guard official said, adding that a helicopter was waiting to take them away.

A video uploaded to the Greek news website Proto Thema showed the 183-meter (600-foot) ferry blazing and cascading in huge plumes of smoke. Labor Day was blasting from the loudspeakers.

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The ferry had set sail from Igoumenitsa, the largest port in western Greece, and headed for the Italian port of Brindisi, about nine hours away.

The fire, the cause of which was not immediately known, broke out near the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea.

The ferry is part of the Grimaldi Lines group’s fleet and has a capacity of 560 passengers, according to the company’s website.

Grimaldi Lines spokesman Paul Kyprianou told Reuters the cause of the fire was still being investigated but there were indications it started from the ship’s hold.

“The damage is huge because despite the efforts made, the crew was unable to put out the fire,” he said.

At least three Greek coast guard ships and a patrol boat of the Italian financial police, Monte Speroni, participated in the rescue.

Ship tracking data provided by Refinitiv Eikon showed the Euroferry Olympia making a turn northwest from the North Corfu Channel.

In 2014, 10 people were killed when the Norman Atlantic ferry, carrying 466 passengers and crew, caught fire as it sailed from Greece to Italy.

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Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas in Athens, Giulia Segretti and Giselda Fagnoni in Rome; Editing by Sam Holmes, Lincoln Fest, Alex Richardson and Alison Williams

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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