One crew member and two passengers were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties. The Greek coast guard said there were no initial reports of anyone missing, but a full check of passenger and crew lists was expected to take several hours. The rescued passengers were transported to Corfu.
“This is a difficult process and we must be careful. The final count of people on board will be done in Corfu when all those rescued there are assembled,” Greek Deputy Shipping Minister Costas Katsavados told state TV ERT.
The pre-dawn fire broke out on the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia shortly after leaving the port of Igoumenitsa in the northwest of the country. Greece Heading to the Italian port of Brindisi, with 239 passengers and 51 crew members on board.
The 183-meter (600-foot) ferry, built in 1995, was traveling near the small Greek island of Ericosa, 15 kilometers north of Corfu, when the fire started. Pictures broadcast by local TV channels of the ferry after the evacuation indicated that the fire was widespread.
Greek truck driver Giorgos Parlantzas, one of the rescued passengers, recounted what happened at Euroferry Olympia.
“I was sleeping in the cabin when they came to alert us,” Parlantzas told The Associated Press, speaking by phone after arriving in Corfu. “I grabbed my ID and went to the rooftop where people were gathering. It must have been about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. They put us in boats”.
Nikos Lagadianos, a senior official of the Greek coast guard, said that six boats from the Greek coast guard and navy participated in the rescue operation, along with four helicopters and a boat from the Italian customs inspection, and many passing ships.
Local officials said the rescued passengers, some wrapped in foil sheets, had arrived in Corfu on the Italian inspection ship and were being taken to a collection area where medics will also conduct first aid checks.
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