More than 24 hours after the blaze broke out, more than 100 people are still waiting to be rescued from the burning vessel. Rescue personal provide blankets to the people waiting on the upper decks, who are exposed throughout the night to freezing rain and hail.
Italian navy Captain Riccardo Rizzotto:
Despite the smoke, the dark and the horrible conditions, rescue activities continued without stop throughout the night.
Al Jazeera reporter Simon McGregor-Wood:
At least 295 passengers and crew members have been saved so far from the burning ferry that leaves 183 still on board, and the rescue operation is continuing.
One man, identified as Greek national Giorgos Doulis, is confirmed dead. The deceased passenger and his injured wife are discovered in a lifeboat emergency chute, and both are airlifted to a hospital in the southern Italian city of Brindisi. Passengers still stuck on the vessel describe harsh conditions. Many may be suffering from smoke inhalation and hypothermia. Mr. Giorgos Styliaras in an interview with Mega Channel earlier:
We are out on the deck, we have frostbite and are choking on smoke. The boat is still burning and the floors are boiling. Some are trembling and others coughing from the smoke.
An Italian Ferry, the Norman Atlantic, catches fire in the Adriatic Sea, on route from Patras in western Greece to the eastern Italian city of Ancona.. Italian and Greek forces are involved in the rescue operation to save over 400 passengers and crew members. The fire begins at approximately 6:00 a.m. Passengers phone Greek television stations with live reports of the event. One passenger states:
They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is no co-ordination. It’s dark, the bottom of the vessel is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching … we opened some boxes and got some life vests. We are trying to save ourselves.
Strong winds of up to 55 miles per hour make evacuation of the ferry difficult. The ship is located about 44 nautical miles from Corfu. Planes, helicopters, and seven ships in the area are assisting in rescue operation. At least 150 passengers are reported to have reached life boats, and some 30 are safely aboard a nearby container ship. Priority is being given to women and children in the operation. Greek Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis tells reporters:
We are doing everything we can to save those on board and no one, no one will be left helpless in this tough situation. It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done.