Divers have widened their search area at sea around the burning building, to find any missing off the Greek island of Corfu, said the Greek coast guard.
The fire broke out shortly after 4 a.m. when the Euroferry Olympia of the Italian company Grimaldi was off the islet of Erikoussa, between Greece and Albania.
Of a total of 290 people registered on board, including 51 Italian and Greek crew members, 278 were rescued and transported to the port of Corfu, according to the report of the Greek coast guard intervened alongside an Italian patrol boat.
Ten of them were hospitalized with breathing problems and minor injuries, according to Greek public television ERT.
But several are still missing.
The operation continues to locate 12 missing passengers, specifies Friday evening a press release from the coast guard. Nine are Bulgarian nationals, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry confirmed.
A team of specialized Greek rescuers was able to board the burning ship where, according to the Grimaldi company, five missing were
Two truck drivers – a Turkish and a Bulgarian – were able to be evacuated by helicopter from the vehicle hold where they had been trapped and taken to hospital, ERT reported.
An illegal migrant, possibly others
Among the survivors is a clandestine migrant, whose presence raises fears that of possible other passengers not counted on the burning ship. Migrants often smuggle aboard ferries linking Greece to Italy.
The ship made a regular night connection between the Greek port of Igoumenitsa and the Italian port of Brindisi.
On the list of people on board, there are in particular 127 Bulgarians, 64 Italians, 24 Turks and 21 Greeks, according to authorities and media of the countries concerned.
The survivors were transported to hotels in Corfu, while the Grimaldi company should send a ferry to allow those who wish to reach Italy, according to ERT.
The ship is burning from end to endsaid a Greek rescuer, Yiorgos Glikofridis.
There is a lot of smoke and the visibility is poorhe said on ERT.
The Greek emergency services estimate that it will take several hours to bring the disaster under control.
A truck as the possible source of the fire
The fire could have started from a truck parked in the holds reserved for vehicles, the commander of the ferry told the crew of Italian rescuers, according to the Ansa news agency.
There were 153 commercial vehicles and 32 cars on the ferry, according to the company.
There was no fuel spillage at sea and the vessel’s stability did not appear to be compromisedGrimaldi added, in a press release.
The flames were gigantic, there was panic on boardpassengers testified to Italian rescuers.
” The captain of the ship, when he discovered the fire, went around the cabins and collected the passengers on one deck, then he ordered the abandonment of the ship. The evacuation was not a walk in the park. »
The fire broke out two hours after the departure of the ferry, built in 1995, which had sailed around 2 a.m.
We were sleeping when we were alerted to the firesaid a passenger.
We got dressed in a second and went up to the deck where we were given life jacketscontinued this truck driver joined by ERT.
In just 15 minutes, the fire reached the bridgesaid another passenger on the Greek channel Skai.
the crew saved ushe said again, welcoming a reaction on board
Maritime ferry connections between the Greek ports of Igoumenitsa (northwest) and Patras (southwest) are frequent with the Italian ports in the Adriatic Sea, Brindisi or Ancona.
The previous fire on a ferry in this part of the Mediterranean took place in December 2014 on the Norman Atlantic, an Italian ship, which was en route from Patras to Ancona. It killed 13 people, including 9 passengers.