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live 499 people were on board the Norman Atlantic

30 December 2014 / 18:12:50  GRReporter
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The thriller with the Norman Atlantic passengers is continuing for the third day in a row. Immediately upon announcing the end of the rescue operation, the authorities undertook the so far daunting task of establishing the identity not only of those passengers who are considered missing but also of the evacuees.

On Tuesday, the Greek and Italian authorities had confirmed the identity of one of the 10 victims of the disaster. The name of the deceased is Konstantinos Koufopoulos, born in Meliki, Imathia area, in 1957. Later it was established that the two other victims were Italian citizens.

The number of missing passengers varies between 42 and 60 and no one is able to confirm it. Some of the passengers who arrived in Athens by plane last night stated that the majority of them were TIR truck owners and drivers who had spent the night in the trucks because there were no available cabins. "Many of my colleagues preferred to sleep in their trucks than to squeeze in fours in a cabin. Mine was so dirty that at some point I decided to take a bath and then go down in the garage and sleep in the truck," said one of the evacuated women.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor of the Greek Supreme Court has ordered the prosecution in Piraeus to investigate the causes of the accident. The intervention of the Supreme Prosecutor's Office had been initiated by a letter by Minister of Merchant Marine Miltiades Varvitsiotes.

The ferry that has been uncontrollable since yesterday is now near Sasona island near the Albanian Vlora port. According to the Greek media, it has to be established whether its condition allows it to be towed to the Greek or Italian coasts.

Shortly before 1:00 pm, Amna Athens News Agency reported that two Albanian sailors had lost their lives after one of the wires that connected the tug vessel with the Norman Atlantic had broken during the night operation. "One person died on the spot when the cable that the propeller had caught broke. Another man died while the medical team that arrived by helicopter was giving him first aid," a representative of the port authorities in Vlora told the international agency Reuters.

The Albanian Ministry of Defence has confirmed one of the death cases; as for the second sailor, the department has informed that he is severely wounded. The Ministry has also announced that the two men are not members of the Albanian Navy.


Photo: EUROKINISSI / Stelios Missinas

During a press conference, spokesman of the Greek Coast Guard Nikolaos Lagadinos reported that the number of the rescued Greek citizens is 201. For his part, Minister of Merchant Marine Miltiades Varvitsiotes said that the rescue operations are continuing in order "to make sure that no one is helpless anywhere." He said the Greek rescue teams are in the region controlled by Greece, as well as in part of the Albanian region under the agreement reached with Tirana.

At the same time, the information on the number of passengers aboard the ship is still changing. According to the prosecutor’s office of the Italian city of Bari that is investigating the causes of the disaster, there were 499 people aboard the Norman Atlantic. There is evidence that at least three of them were illegal immigrants whereas another 18 people were travelling without being included in the official list of passengers.

In addition, prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe has ordered the towing of the Norman Atlantic to the port of Brindisi for investigation purposes.

The Italian authorities fear that they will probably find dead bodies in the ship holds since there is irrefutable evidence for the presence of illegal immigrants onboard the ship.

The Italian prosecutor's office has launched a criminal persecution against ferry master Argilio Giacomazzi and owner Carlo Visentini. The charges against them also include repeated manslaughter, shipwreck and bodily injury by negligence.

It is expected that the landing craft-amphibious San Giorgio of the Italian Navy with 2 Bulgarian and 81 Greek citizens on board will arrive at the Italian port this evening.


Tags: Norman AtlanticFerryVictimsGreeceItalyProsecutor's investigationMissing people
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