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live The rescue of the Norman Atlantic passengers is continuing only by air

29 December 2014 / 12:12:19  GRReporter
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345 of the total 478 passengers aboard the ferry Norman Atlantic had been rescued by 11:32 am on Monday. Meanwhile, the Italian media has reported that a passenger of Turkish origin had said that he had seen four dead bodies on board. Later, the Italian authorities officially confirmed the information.

Shortly after the end of the rescue operations associated with the evacuation of the passengers onboard the ferry Norman Atlantic was announced, the fears that the number of victims of the disaster would increase several times intensified. They are due to the difference between the number of persons rescued, 432, and the total number of those on board the ship, 478.

So far it remains unclear whether the reason for the discrepancy is the delayed dissemination of information on the part of the Italian authorities or something else.

According to them, only members of the Italian Navy are onboard the ferry at present and they are checking all the rooms. Earlier, the ship captain had left the vessel as well.

Meanwhile, the number of victims of the accident has increased to eight. Members of the Italian Coast Guard have found two more bodies. The authorities do not exclude that they and the four other bodies found earlier today belong to illegal immigrants.

The four victims found today could have been illegal immigrants, since, according to Greek Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, before the ferry had departed from Patras the authorities had arrested nine people who tried to get on board without the required documents. The Minister did not exclude the presence of stowaways on board the ship but refused to confirm such information.

Four of the seven victims are Greek citizens, as stated in a publication of the online edition of the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica". So far there has been no comment on the news on the Greek side.

At 15:15 Greek time, the Italian Coast Guard reported that all passengers had been evacuated from the ferry in distress and that only the captain and four members of the Italian Navy were on board. An official announcement issued an hour earlier stated that 419 people had been rescued, including the five deceased persons. At present, the Italian authorities are preparing the lists of the evacuated passengers.

Due to bad weather conditions in the Adriatic Sea, the rescue operations are taking place only by air, involving three Greek and three Italian helicopters. Several hours after the dissemination of the video of the Italian authorities, the information service of the Greek military aircraft presented a video of the rescue operations carried out by the Greek helicopters.

The tug vessel Ionion Pelagos and the frigate Navarino are sailing to the ship in distress. The ferry is still uncontrollable after the two unsuccessful attempts to be towed last night.

A comparison of the data with the list of registered passengers shows no missing passengers. However, there are reports of stowaways aboard the ferry and it is not yet clear what has happened to them.

In statements, doctors who have boarded the ferry in distress claim that there are no injuries among the passengers.

Meanwhile, the ferry Spirit of Piraeus, to which 49 of the passengers aboard Norman Atlantic have been transferred, has arrived at the Italian port of Bari. Although the Italian authorities have not yet provided information on the people rescued, it is considered that around 100 of them are Greeks. It is expected that they will be transported from Bari and Lecce to Greece in the afternoon by two military aircraft C-130.

Earlier today, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had announced that two more Bulgarians, ferry passengers, had been rescued, namely R. Todorova and S. Argirova who were evacuated on board a Maltese ship and taken to hospital.

To be continued

Tags: Burning ferryNorman AtlanticRescue operationsGreeceItalyEvacuated passengers
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