July 19, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Search continues for 12 missing, including three Greeks

There is new information and footage of what is happening on the burning ship Euroferry Olympia. The fire started on the 3rd deck when it was off the coast of Corfu. The search continues for 12 missing persons, including 3 Greeks.

Earlier it was reported about eleven disappeared without a trace, but yesterday an Afghan was rescued, who was not on the official list of passengers. He apparently secretly boarded the ship in order to get to Italy. After that, the list of missing people increased by one person. In the evening, the search for the missing persons was called off, as reported by the Coast Guard and the fire department, and resumed at first light. So far, 278 people have been rescued.

The head of the Greek rescue team in Corfu, George Gikofridis, says: “The fire is still raging from side to side. It is difficult to climb up, the temperature is huge.”

Firefighting efforts continued through the night with three tugboats with firefighting capabilities and fire engines aboard the passenger ferry.

One of the causes of the fire, according to Star, could be a tank with flammable material, which was on the deck. Firefighters describe the situation on board as being in a “minefield”.

Officials and the Ministry of Shipping say the worst was averted thanks to the timely and calm intervention of the Italian captain, who ordered the ship to be abandoned:

“If he slept, then no one could get out of the captivity of fire in time.”

According to the Coast Guard, 12 passengers, including three Greeks, are missing, with their relatives shuddering at the thought of the worst-case scenario and saying they are desperate to contact them. Brother of Konstantinos Gerontidakis, Dimitris, stressed that he was very afraid that his brother could fall asleep in the truck. If this happens, it can be fatal:

“He was going to go to Italy in a truck to move some things. All I know is that he left last night on a burning ship, heading to Italy. Since the morning I have been looking and can not find anything and know nothing “There weren’t many tourists on this ship and it’s not a ship that has a lot of cabins. Maybe in my experience, since I’m a former trucker, they gave my brother a cabin along with others. If you don’t know others, you don’t sleep there.” He decided that it would be better to sleep in the car, and that could be fatal … That’s what I’m afraid of, if this happened, he would not be able to get out of the truck in time.

Dimitris added that he has no official information about what is happening. No one called him or said anything:

I called the Corfu Coast Guard and they told me that they don’t have any information yet and that I shouldn’t worry because they will provide it to us. Now my niece and my son are leaving for Corfu to see what is happening there.

Relatives of two other missing persons also raised the issue of lack of information and impossibility of communication. They received only one phone call from the Ministry of Shipping:

“My mother was reported from the Ministry of Merchant Shipping and I am on my way to my mother there. She is a professional driver and often travels this route. We have no other information from either my father’s company or the shipping company. What we know is we found out for ourselves. The hospital in Corfu kept confidentiality, the Port Authority of Corfu kept confidentiality. The phone is switched off.”

According to brother-in-law Nikolaos Bekiaris, in the afternoon, a Coast Guard officer informed them that their people were still being sought, and that he constantly called him and even hurried to Corfu, to the landing site of the rescued people:

“I’m worried, I haven’t had any connection until now. My brother-in-law is a truck driver, and since I found out about what happened, I came to get the news, but so far there is nothing.”

The people who managed to escape and some safely and some with minor injuries to get to Corfu are still reeling from the shock. Elderly people, women, small children and even babies… Fortunately, they managed to avoid the worst. They still do not believe that they managed to escape. For the three families traveling with children, the moments they experienced “were truly nightmarish,” they said. Edition newsbreak.gr writes that one of the fishermen involved in the rescue operation says:

“Hell. We were ordered to conduct a search operation. About two kilometers from the ship, we turned around in search of people to see if we could find someone with a life jacket in the sea.”

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