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Hundreds saved off ferry burning between Greece and Italy

A passenger from Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia disembarks from a Greek coast guard vessel at the port of Corfu, after being rescued from the ship that caught fire off the island of Corfu, Greece, February 18, 2022. Stamatis Katapodis/Eurokinissi via REUTERS

Hundreds of passengers were rescued from a boat that caught fire in the early hours of Friday between Greece and Italy, according to the Greek coastguard.

The news: The 183-meter (600-foot) boat was enveloped in flames and massive clouds of smoke, according to a video posted on the Greek news website Proto Thema. The song “May Day” was playing over the speakers.

  • The coastguard said that 239 passengers and 51 staff members were on board the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, with the majority of them boarding rescue vessels en route to the island of Corfu’s harbour.
  • There were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries at the time. According to the Athens News Agency, one person was rushed to the hospital with breathing problems.
  • The ferry had set sail from Igoumenitsa, western Greece’s main port, on its route to Brindisi, Italy, nearly nine hours distant.
  • The fire broke out near the Ionian Sea island of Corfu, the origin of which was unknown at the time.
A passenger from Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia disembarks from a Greek coast guard vessel at the port of Corfu, after being rescued from the ship that caught fire off the island of Corfu, Greece, February 18, 2022. Stamatis Katapodis/Eurokinissi via REUTERS

What they’re saying: “We were woken up around 4:20 a.m. Within an hour we had left the ship… We were saved by the crew, which acted fast,” one of the passengers told Skai TV via telephone.

  • According to the company’s website, the ferry is part of the Grimaldi Lines fleet and can carry up to 560 passengers.
  • According to Grimaldi Lines spokesman Paul Kyprianou, the source of the fire is still being investigated, but there are suspicions that it started in the ship’s hold.
  • “Damage is severe because despite the efforts the crew was unable to extinguish the fire,” he said.
  • The rescue operation involved at least three coastguard vessels and one Italian financial police vessel.
  • The Euroferry Olympia made a U-turn northwest of the North Corfu canal, according to ship monitoring data provided by Refinitiv Eikon.

In 2014, an automobile ferry carrying 466 passengers and staff caught fire while travelling from Greece to Italy, killing ten people.

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