Flashback in maritime history – Norman Atlantic ferry fire on 28 Dec. 2014

Update:ABC

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NORMAN ATLANTIC on fire

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NORMAN ATLANTIC on fire

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Ship’s plan from sister vessel of Νοrman Atlantic, Norman Asturias

Update: Norman Atlantic ferry fire: One killed and hundreds still trapped as passengers are airlifted from burning ferry

Hundreds of people remain trapped after a ferry caught fire on route from Greece to Italy, sparking an international rescue mission in challenging rough sea conditions.

Officials said one person has died and at least one other is injured, as high winds and choppy waters leave rescue vessels and aircraft struggling to get close enough to help.

Around 130 of the almost 480 people on board had been evacuated, the majority when a lifeboat was successfully lowered from the stricken vessel, but an operation to airlift the remaining passengers to safety – two at a time – could take hours.

Each air transfer was taking around 15 minutes for each helicopter, according to a Greek defence ministry official.

Another official said two Italian and two Greek helicopters were involved in the rescue.

Greece ferry map

Map locating the position of the Norman Atlantic

Earlier, the Greek shipping minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said the combination of very bad weather, with winds of up to 88 kilometres per hour, and the fire made the operation extremely complicated.

“We are doing everything we can to save those on board and no-one will be left helpless in this tough situation,” he said.

“It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done.”

Cold winter temperatures would make survival in the sea difficult unless rescue came quickly.

Mr Varvitsiotis said there were 478 passengers and crew on the ship, more than the 466 originally reported.

He said 268 were Greek, while a foreign ministry official said there were also passengers from several other countries including Germany, Italy, Austria, Turkey, France and the Netherlands.

Passenger list (names): click here

Skynews video: FERRY FIRE UPDATE: One Person Dead as Fire Burns On Norman Atlantic Ferry

Video: Italian Air Force Films Burning Norman Atlantic Ferry On Fire

Norman Atlantic

NORMAN ATLANTIC

An international rescue effort was under way in high winds after a car ferry (NORMAN ATLANTIC) carrying 466 passengers and crew caught fire while sailing from Greece to Italy and its captain ordered its evacuation, officials said on Sunday.

Passengers who telephoned Greek television stations gave dramatic accounts of conditions on the ship, which caught fire just before 6.00 am local time (0400 GMT) while travelling from Patras in western Greece to the eastern Italian city of Ancona.

“They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is no co-ordination,” one said. “It’s dark, the bottom of the vessel is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching … we opened some boxes and got some life vests. We are trying to save ourselves.”

It was unclear whether there had been any casualties or whether any passengers were in the water, where cold winter temperatures would make survival difficult unless rescue came quickly.

The Norman Atlantic, carrying 222 vehicles, 411 passengers and 55 crew, was 44 nautical miles north-west of the island of Corfu when it sent a distress signal after a fire started in the lower deck, Greek coast guard officials said.

“The ship is already being evacuated,” an official said, adding that 130 people had been transferred from a rescue boat to a container ship that had been nearby when the fire broke out.

Officials said both Italian and Albanian authorities were taking part in the operation, which was being conducted in difficult conditions with strong winds.

Seven other ships were in the area and rescue helicopters and a C-130 search-and-rescue support aircraft had also been sent.

The rescue operation is now headded by Italian Coast Guard in cooperation with Greek Coast Guard.

Click here for news flash video from CNN

Click here for audio (Greek) from passengers onboard

 

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