ATHENS, December 29. /TASS/. Italian and Greek rescuers have evacuated 211 from ferry Norman Atlantic to cargo ships sailing nearby. Several evacuatees were already taken to Italian hospitals by helicopters, Greek state television NERIT reported on Monday. According to latest reports, 256 are staying on board the ferry and are being evacuated gradually.
Overnight three attempts have been taken to tow the ferry to the Italian coast, but all of them were reported futile, as cables ruptured. Due to temporarily improving weather Italian passenger rescue center which supervises efforts to evacuate passengers from the ferry sought to fulfil an alternative rescue plan which envisages a massive movement of passengers and crewmembers to a neighbouring Italian warship, but stronger winds prevented it from fulfilling.
Italy said that the fire-fighting operation was over on board the ferry, but Greece only officially confirmed that “the fire was contained and put under control.” Medical personnel came on board the ferry to give aid to passengers.
An Italian coast guard ship, ten freight ships, Italian helicopter carrier are participating in the rescue operation. Two Italian helicopters Super Puma and a Greek rescue helicopter are also involved in the operation.
Fire started early on Sunday onboard the Norman Atlantic cruise ferry en route from Greece’s Patras to Italy’s Ancona under the Italian flag. The boat is currently 33 nautical miles northeast of the Italian town of Ortanto and 12 miles of Albania’s port of Valona. No information is available about those hurt or missing.
At the moment of fire, there were 478 passengers.