Greece resumes search for ferry fire survivors
Greek firefighters and coastguards said Monday they were resuming the search for 10 people still missing from a ferry fire last week in which a truck driver perished.
Television footage showed smoke still billowing from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, more than 72 hours after a fire ripped through the vessel as it sailed from Igoumenitsa in Greece to Brindisi in Italy with nearly 300 people aboard.
“It is a very difficult operation,” a fire department spokeswoman told AFP.
More than 40 firefighters were taking part in the search and rescue operation with tugboats and coastguard vessels on standby nearby.
“There is major thermal stress and a lot of smoke,” the spokeswoman said.
Most of the passengers were quickly evacuated, and a 21-year-old Belarussian truck driver emerged alive on Sunday.
But 10 other truck drivers — seven Bulgarians, two Greeks and one Turk — remain unaccounted for.
The body of a 58-year-old Greek truck driver was recovered Sunday, the first confirmed fatality of the accident.
Two of those rescued were Afghans not on the list, sparking fears that more undocumented passengers might also have been onboard.
The missing drivers reportedly slept in their vehicles, because cabins on the ferry were unsuitable, according to the Greek truck drivers’ union.
“We had many complaints about living conditions for the drivers,” union chairman Akis Dermatis told Greek public television ERT.
The ferry’s owners, Grimaldi Lines, rejected the accusations, saying in a statement on Sunday that an inspection by the authorities in the port of Igoumenitsa two days before the fire had been “satisfactory”.
The last fire onboard a ship in the Adriatic occurred in December 2014 on the Italian ferry Norman Atlantic, in which 13 people died.