الخميس , يونيو 11 2020

Search to resume on Italy ferry

A view of the Norman Atlantic ferry in Brindisi, 2 January 2015There is still confusion over exactly how many people were on board the Norman Atlantic

Rescue workers are to resume a search on the Norman Atlantic ferry, nearly a week after it caught fire while sailing from Greece to Italy.

Firefighters and investigators boarded the boat on Friday after it was towed into the Italian port of Brindisi.

They recovered a “black box” recorder, but said it was not yet safe to enter the car deck where the fire started.

It is not clear what caused the blaze, which killed at least 11 people. Up to 19 are said to still be missing.

It took rescuers more than two days to extract 477 survivors from the burning ferry, mostly by helicopter.

The Italian prosecutor leading the investigation into the cause of the fire, Giuseppe Volpe, has said he fears that the bodies of would-be illegal migrants could be found in the hold.

‘Slowly burning’

The Norman Atlantic was still smouldering and listing visibly as it was tugged into Brindisi’s port on Friday.

“There are cars and trucks and other things that are still slowly burning,” said Brindisi Fire Commander Michele Angiuli, adding that this “could still go ahead for a long time”.

An investigating magistrate, Ettore Cardinali, told journalists as he left the boat that it had not been possible to reach the car deck.

“For safety reasons, we cannot verify first hand what’s inside,” he said.

Norman Atlantic being towed into Brindisi, 2 January 2015The Norman Atlantic was listing to starboard as it was towed into Brindisi

A view of the Norman Atlantic ferry, 2 January 2015Authorities fear that passengers and illegal migrants may still be discovered

A view of the Norman Atlantic ferry, 2 January 2015They said that parts of the boat were still burning

Greek authorities have said that up to 19 people are missing. Mr Volpe said on Friday that about 10 to 15 people were unaccounted for, having earlier said dozens might be missing.

The captain, owner and operator of the ship as well as three crew members are reported to have been placed under investigation by an Italian court over the fire.

Earlier in the week, two Albanian seamen were killed on a tugboat towing the ferry after they were struck by a connecting cable.

The ferry was sailing from Patras in Greece to the Italian city of Ancona when it caught fire on Sunday.

Passengers described being trapped between the the burning heat of the fire below deck and freezing rain and huge waves.

Survivors said people had fought for spaces in lifeboats and helicopter baskets, and complained that the crew seemed overwhelmed by events.

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