السبت , يونيو 6 2020

Britons on fire ferry phone families



Member of Italian navy looking down at passengers on ferry

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Susan Daltas told the BBC that she had not spoken to her daughter Mia since her rescue

British families are anxiously waiting for news after relatives were caught on board a ferry fire near Greece.

A British family of four and an engaged couple were on the Norman Atlantic, which was travelling from Greece to Italy, when it caught fire.

Dotty Channing-Williams from Berkshire last spoke to her son Nick, 37, when he contacted her on Sunday morning.

Susan Daltas said her son-in-law was on board when he rang her but her daughter and two grandchildren had been rescued.

The Norman Atlantic was travelling from Patras, in Greece, to Ancona, in Italy, when a fire broke out on its car deck.

Ships and helicopters are taking part in a major rescue operation after an Italian ferry carrying 478 people caught fire north-west of Corfu.

A total of 190 people have been rescued but more than 280 remain on the ferry, authorities have said.

One person has died after jumping from the ship and another has been confirmed injured, officials say.

Undated family handout photo of Briton Nick Channing-Williams with his fiancee Regina TheoffiliNick Channing-Williams was on the ferry with his fiancee Regina Theoffili

Mrs Daltas, who lives in Corfu, said she had managed to speak to her daughter on Sunday morning.

She told the BBC that she had since spoken to her son-in-law, Marcus, who was still on board the boat. He told Mrs Daltas that her daughter, Mia, and her two granddaughters had been airlifted to safety.

Her youngest granddaughter had been taken to hospital in the city of Brindisi, in southern Italy, Mrs Dalta said.

“She was suffering from hypothermia because they didn’t even manage to get a coat out of the cabin before they had to go on deck, but apparently she’s now sleeping.

“But she’s on her own, the other two haven’t got there yet. They’re somewhere on a boat, going towards Brindisi,” she added.

However, Mrs Daltas said she was now unable to contact her daughter.

‘Freezing cold’

Mr Channing-Williams, who lives in Greece, is a competitive show jumper and trains young riders. He was on the boat with his 33-year-old fiancee Regina Theoffili.

His mother said: “It’s hard, because I haven’t heard anything for a long time now.

“They have cut communications because it was hampering the rescue operation.”

She said she had last spoken to her son at 11:00 GMT.

Ferry fireImages of the fire have been released by Italian coast guards

“I told him it’s just so difficult because there’s no information. And he said, ‘It’s far more difficult here, because we’ve been on the top deck in the freezing cold and rain and thunder and lightning.'”

Mrs Channing-Williams said her son had initially called her in the early hours but told her he had dialled her number by mistake.

She added: “But as soon as I got up and saw the television news this morning, which was early, I knew. I knew straight away. I knew that he was on that ferry.

“I know that he was in touch with the people in Greece and he said to them, ‘Please don’t tell my mum, because she’ll be so worried.’ And then he called me to let me know that he’s okay.”

British Ambassador to Greece John Kittmer said the embassy was in “close contact” with the Greek authorities and was urgently seeking more information”.

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