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Monday 29 December 2014

Death Toll Rises After Ferry Catches Fire In Adriatic.

Four more people have died after fire broke out on a ferry en route
from Greece to Italy in the Adriatic Sea on Sunday, Greek Merchant Marine Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis said Monday.
This brings the overall death toll to five, more than 24 hours after the fire broke out on the Norman Atlantic on Sunday. The ferry had been traveling between the Greek port of Igoumenitsa and the Italian port of Ancona when the blaze began in its parking bay.
One man died after he jumped or fell into the cold water, authorities said. It is unclear how the other four victims died.
The Italian navy said 419 people had been rescued from the ferry, with work continuing to rescue the remaining passengers and crew.

An Italian navy medical team boarded the ship Monday to aid passengers, some of whom were suffering hypothermia and smoke inhalation, the navy said. The already cold conditions were worsened by the spray from tugboat hoses as authorities attempted to douse the flames.
Helicopters with night vision equipment had worked through the night to pull passengers off the ferry, one by one.
After waiting for hours in rough conditions, one Greek man told Italian state broadcaster RAI TV that passengers were "dying of cold and suffocating from the smoke," and that their feet were "burning" from the heat of the flames.
Dramatic cell phone images filmed by a passenger showed flames through shattered portholes, while a wider view released by rescuers showed a huge plume of thick, black smoke streaming from the stricken vessel.

Lifeboats couldn't be deployed
In the first three hours of the blaze, around 150 people were able to escape via the vessel's lifeboats. But when the ferry lost power, the electronic arms were unable to function, leaving the boats dangling uselessly by its side.
Rescue efforts were hampered by strong winds, choppy seas and thick smoke, which prevented other boats from getting close enough to the vessel to get people off.
Many passengers were unable to reach the lower decks because of the heat, and the water below was so cold that jumping clear of the ferry was not an option.
Passengers able to escape the ferry told Greek and Italian newsgroups they felt like "prisoners on a burning ship."

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