The ferry was sailing from Greece to Italy when it caught fire near the island of Corfu. On board the ship were approximately 300 people, 241 passengers and 51 crew members.
While towing the boat ashore, the Belarusian man was discovered. He climbed a ladder and was rescued. “Now that we have rescued someone, there is hope again that more people will be saved,” the coast guard told Greek media.
The rescued people were taken to Corfu. Ten people were treated for minor injuries. The missing are truck drivers, according to the Coast Guard. Several truck drivers who were rescued told local media that some drivers preferred to sleep in their trucks because the sleeping areas on board were overcrowded.
The Dutch rescue company Boskalis sent twelve experts to Greece to help. Greek media reported that the ship’s captain and two crew members were arrested, but released after questioning. The authorities are conducting an investigation.
The Italian coast guard said the ship may also have leaked fuel. Italy’s environment ministry said the ferry was believed to be carrying an estimated 800 cubic meters of fuel and another 23 tonnes of “corrosive dangerous goods”.
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The cause of the fire is not yet known. Supposedly it started in the hull of the ferry. Owner Grimaldi Lines reports that the crew tried to put out the fire to no avail. According to one of the rescued passengers, it took four hours before they were rescued.
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According to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, a Greek trade union warned the Ministry of the Navy in 2017 of poor conditions on the ferry. For example, the air conditioner in the sleeping quarters wouldn’t work and there were very few sleeping places. According to the union, the ventilation in Olympia’s garage was also down.
Grimaldi Lines said the last safety check of the 27-year-old ferry was on February 16. The Truckers’ Union also complained about the condition of another company ferry, the Ignazia.
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