ATHENS – Rescuers exploring the charred hull of a passenger ferry that caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu this month recovered eight bodies and were searching for three others on Saturday. Greek authorities said.
A total of 281 people were rescued from the Italian-owned vehicle. Euroferry Olympia after the fire broke out in the early hours of 18 February, hours after the ship left the port of Igoumenitsa, northwest Greece, bound for Brindisi, Italy.
Most of those on board were rescued by the Greek coast guard, with the help of Italian authorities, within the first few hours after the blaze broke out. Two other passengers were rescued by helicopter later in the day, and a third made it to the deck after being trapped in the ship’s bottom deck garage for more than 50 hours.
“The search is continuing,” a spokesman for the Greek Coast Guard, Nikolaos Alexiou, said on Saturday morning. The train’s ramp remains closed, he noted, which has limited rescuers’ access to the garages. “We will continue our efforts to open it today,” he said.
According to Greek fire agency spokesman Vassilis Vathrakoyiannis, the ferry was towed to the major port of Astakos in western Greece on Wednesday, where search efforts were ramped up. He said it is difficult to say exactly when the fire will be extinguished, and high temperatures, in excess of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 600 degrees Celsius, remain a stumbling block for much of the work. “These hotspots could flare up again at any time,” he said.
Videos posted by Greek news websites last week showed devastation caused by the blaze, with rescuers from the Greek fire agency walk through the burning ruins of a truck among thick clouds of black smoke.
Last Sunday, members of the special disaster unit of the Greek fire agency The body of a Greek man was found in the cabin of a truck in one of the ferry’s three garages. Another body was found on Wednesday and six more on Thursday and Friday. At least three more people are believed to be missing.
According to the ship’s owner, Grimaldi Lines, there were 153 trucks and 32 cars on board.
All eight bodies have been found in the garage, and two people have so far been identified, both Greek truck drivers, a Greek Shipping Ministry official said. Nine other names on the passenger list have yet to match a survivor or a body. All were truck drivers: one Greek, seven Bulgarians and one Turkish.
However, two of the 281 rescued were Afghan nationals who were not on the list, and officials did not rule out the possibility that there were many unidentified passengers on board.
Vathrakoyiannis of the fire service said the extent of the devastation was such that “some bodies may never be found”.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, although Greek authorities indicate that it started in one of the ship’s three garages, as numerous surviving passengers testified.
It is not uncommon for truck drivers to sleep in their vehicles while crossing overnight ferries instead of in the train cabins. The tragedy has sparked debate about the need for stricter checks to limit this activity.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/26/world/europe/greece-ferry-fire.html 8 dead after ferry catches fire off the coast of Greece as search for the god of death continues