11 missing after flames engulf Greece-Italy ferry

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Eleven passengers were missing after a blaze en-gulfed a ferry sailing from Greece to Italy early on Friday while an operation was under way to try to rescue two people trapped in the ship’s garage, the Greek coastguard said.

A total of 239 passengers and 51 crew were on-board the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia when the fire broke out, and rescue vessels had taken most of them to the island of Corfu where ambulances were waiting.

The fire was still burning by Friday afternoon and aerial footage released by the coastguard showed rows of burnt trucks on the blackened deck after flames swept through the 183-metre ferry that had been making a nine-hour journey through the night.

“The worst thing is the cars in the garage are glued next to each other, there is no escape route,” one Greek truck driver, who did not give his name, said after arriving on Corfu.

A helicopter was on standby to airlift out two passengers trapped in the ship’s garage, the coast-guard said, as well as confirming 11 passengers were missing as fire crews tried to douse the flames.

The cause of the blaze was still being investi-gated, Greek authorities said. At least 10 people had been taking to a Corfu hospital, most with breathing problems, a Greek health ministry official told state television, and there were no immediate reports of severe injuries.

Earlier on Friday, passengers huddled in yellow blankets on an Italian rescue vessel as huge plumes of smoke poured out of the ferry, one video showed. The words “May Day” were repeatedly blasting from the speakers, in the footage uploaded on Greek news website Proto Thema.—Reuters

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