Death toll in ferry fire rises to 10
Updated: 2014-12-30 09:06
Andreas Tolaros, who was rescued from the Norman Atlantic ferry, hugs a friend after arriving at the Elefsina air-base near Athens December 29, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
BARI - Fighting high winds and stormy seas, helicopter rescue crews on Monday evacuated hundreds of people trapped aboard a Greek ferry that caught fire off Albania. The death toll climbed to 10 as survivors told of a frantic rush to escape, caught among flames, pelting rain and passengers who fought others for rescue.
The evacuation of the overnight ferry from Greece to Italy was completed in the early afternoon with the rescue of 427 people, including 56 crew members, said Italy's transport minister, Maurizio Lupi.
The original ferry manifest listed 422 passengers and 56 crew members, but Italian navy Adm. Giovanni Pettorino said 80 of those rescued did not appear on it at all.
That backed up something that officials as high as Italian Premier Matteo Renzi have hinted throughout the day: That the ferry may have been carrying a number of illegal migrants trying to reach Italy.
Italian authorities said two boats were remaining in the Adriatic Sea to continue the search for people who may still be missing, while a priority was placed on comparing the list of those rescued and deceased with the passenger list to determine how many people, if any, may still be unaccounted for.
"We cannot say how many people may be missing," Lupi said.
Adm. Giuseppe De Giorgi, an Italian naval commander, said it was possible others had fallen in the water when lifeboats were initially deployed.
The problem wasn't just that the ferry carried people not officially declared. It remained unclear how many people on the original manifest never actually boarded the ill-fated ferry, which caught flames early Sunday en route from the Greek port of Patras to the Italian port of Ancona.
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