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Over 300 passengers are struggling with adversity on the burning Νorman Αtlantic, seven Bulgarian citizens among them

28 December 2014 / 19:12:11  GRReporter
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There are seven Bulgarian nationals on board the blaze-stricken ferry Νorman Αtlantic, 45 miles off Corfu. According to the passenger list published by zougla.gr, their names are: S. Argirova, A. Asenov, V. Dospatliev, K. Estov, G. Hajtov, M. Mosavitski, and R. Todorova.

Later in the afternoon, BTA reported 9 Bulgarians on board the ferry, quoting exterior ministry information.

The Νorman Αtlantic was also carrying 1 Romanian, 2 Russians, 6 Austrians, 2 Hungarians, 10 Swiss, 1 Croat, 8 Georgians, 5 Syrians, 1 Swede, 1 Canadian, 2 Ukrainians, 1 Egyptian, 19 Germans, 54 Turks, 2 Afghanis, 22 Albanians, 1 Maltese, 2 Macedonians, 2 Britons, 22 Italians, 2 Dutch, 3 Belgians, 9 French, 2 Iraqis, and 234 Greeks.

The rescue operation is still underway. 111 out of 422 passengers have been rescued so far by passing ships or helicopters of the Italian coastguard. According to the Greek coastal police, 49 passengers were taken by the Spirit of Piraeus cargo ship, 40 by the Aby Jeanette freighter, and 14 by Italian helicopters, which airlifted them to the Cruise Europa of Minoan Lines.

Meanwhile, one of the rescuers said the fire broke out again and the ship started listing.

Shortly after 13:45 Italian Super Puma helicopters began to airlift passengers to ships in the vicinity. children and women were given priority. The operation was coordinated by the Bari coast police.

Ships have formed a circle around the burning ferry to assist passenger rescue. Rescue works have been frustrated by atrocious weather, with winds packing a hefty Beaufort force 9. As a result, the fire-fighting ship and the Sikorsky helicopter, dispatched from Corfu, were compelled to return.

A little while ago it transpired that an Italian tugboat was sent to tow the ferry to port. NERIT state TV reported the operation was expected to take four hours.

The Italian Rai News reported that the ship was adrift and had entered Albanian territorial waters. The news was confirmed by the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi through his twitter account. All ports in southern Italy (Bari, Brindisi, Santa Maria di Leuca, Lecce) are ready to welcome the rescued passengers.

According to the Greek coast guard, a big rescue boat with about 150 passengers on board has been lowered into the sea. 42 of them were taken by the Spirit Of Piraeus. Another 6 commercial ships are in the area, including the Cruise Europa of Minoan Lines.

A C-130 air force plane and six helicopters (Sikorsky, Augusta Bell and Super Puma) have been dispatched to the disaster area. The naval frigate Navarino is also headed there. A fire-fighting vessel will also set out from Igoumenitsa.

The Defence Minister Nikos Dendias said before To Vima that the Greek armed forces had dispatched all their rescue teams, yet the operation could not be carried out by air. The Minister of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, said all were in standby mode, this being such a tough case to handle. The extreme weather, with high winds, rain and hail storm, is crippling the operation.

Varvitsiotis spoke from the Coast Guard’s rescue coordination centre. He also said that he was in constant contact with the Italian authorities.

The government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi pledged all possible efforts are being made for the passengers’ rescue. She also said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had been immediately informed about the disaster and kept in contact with his Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi. The two PMs jointly oversaw the operation of the armed forces and the coast guards of their countries.

Tags: Ship ablaze Νorman Αtlantic rescue operation
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