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ATHENS, December 28. /TASS/. According to preliminary reports, no Russians are on board ferry Norman Atlantic burning in the Adriatic Sea, Russian Honorary Consul on Corfu and other Ionian Islands Nikos Kanoulas told TASS on Sunday.
“According to preliminary reports, there are no Russians there,” Kanoulas said, adding that “more accurate information will come later. It is only clear that ferry passengers are mainly Greeks, Italians and Frenchmen. All information is coming to the port service and a local naval base in Kerkyra which are keeping in touch with the ferryboat and help coordinating efforts taken by rescuers.”
Three Greek helicopter gunships AB-205, Greek chopper S-70 Hawk, rescue helicopter Super Puma and a military transport jet C-130 were dispatched to the incident area along with cargo ships. Meanwhile, frigate Navarino, which has already entered the rescue operation area, was instructed to help evacuating ferry passengers.
On Sunday morning, the fire broke out on board the Italian-flagged ferry Norman Atlantic on the way from Greek port of Patras to Italian port of Ancona. The ferry Greek company ANEK freighted was sailing 44 nautical miles northwest of Corfu in Greek territorial waters, therefore, Athens bears responsibility for the rescue operation. When the ferry losing a steering control was giving the May Day signals it was carrying 478, including the crew. 278 Greeks with due account of crewmembers are among them. No accurate reports are made about the nationality of other passengers. The ferry captain is an Italian citizen, 22 Italians and 34 Greeks make 56 crewmen.