On Friday, Greek officials said ten people, nine men and a woman had been injured after a fire on an Italian ferry, the Grimaldi Lines Euroferry Olympia. The ferry was close to the island of Corfu at the time, Greek TV reported.
There were almost 300 on board the ship, when they were told to evacuate. Leonidas Roumbatis, the director of Corfu hospital, told Greek television ERT that two passengers had been hospitalised as a precautionary measure with minor injuries. Also, a 42-year-old crew member was suffering respiratory problems.
14 missing, 5 located
Grimaldi organised their evacuation. The company was checking its passenger and crew list after a Greek TV channel, Skai, reported that 14 people were unaccounted for. Grimaldi later confirmed that 14 people were missing. Five of them have been located and were in the process of being rescued. Two Bulgarian drivers who were not evacuated and had been reported missing have been located, sources said.
According to ANSA, the missing include, Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish nationals, but no Italians.
Gruppo Grimaldi said “rescue and evacuation operations started immediately with all means available at the scene”. The blaze is thought to have started in the hold of the ship, which was carrying lorries and their drivers.
Italian Finance Police to the rescue
The majority of the passengers, 242, were rescued by an Italian Finance Police vessel which was in the area for a separate operation. President Sergio Mattarella on Friday called Finance Police Commander Giuseppe Zafarana to thank the force for the rescue.
Finance police officers reported the rescued passengers said was there was panic because “the flames were really high”.
“When the fire broke out, the ship’s commander went around the cabins and brought the passengers together on a single deck,” Felice Lodovico Simone Cicchetti, the commander of the finance police vessel, told ANSA. “Then he gave the order to abandon ship, but the evacuation wasn’t a stroll in the park”.
Grimaldi said, however, the fire on the Italian ferry had not caused fuel to pour into the sea.