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Five Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island 

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Old 12-29-2014, 02:14 AM
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Five Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island

ATHENS, Greece – Italian and Greek military and coast guard rescue crews battled gale-force winds and massive waves Sunday as they struggled to rescue hundreds of people trapped on a burning ferry adrift between Italy and Albania. At least one person died and two were injured.

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Dec. 28, 2014: In this photo taken from a nearby ship, smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic ferry after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea. The ferry carrying some hundreds of passengers caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, trapping passengers on the top decks as gale-force winds and choppy seas hampered their evacuation. (AP/SKAI TV Station)

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The Italian Navy said 190 of the 478 people on the ferry, sailing from the Greek port of Patras to Ancona in Italy, had been evacuated by late Sunday night. Most were airlifted by helicopter to other merchant vessels sailing nearby.

"It will be a very difficult night. A night in which we hope we will be able to rescue all on board," Greek Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said in Athens.

He said 10 merchant ships were in the area assisting rescue efforts, and that those who had already taken on dozens of passengers from the stricken ferry would remain in the area until the operation was over. Only then would it be determined where they would go, Varvitsiotis said.

The fire broke out before dawn Sunday on a car deck of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, carrying 422 passengers and 56 crew members. Passengers huddled on the vessel's upper decks, pelted by rain and hail, passengers told Greek media by phone.

Italy and Greece sent navy and coast guard vessels and helicopters to the extensive rescue operation, while nearby merchant ships lined up to form a barrier to protect the ferry from towering waves. As darkness fell, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said rescue operations would continue through the night.

The Italian Coast Guard, which was coordinating the rescue operation, said those flames visible from the outside of the ship had been extinguished by about 8:30 pm (1930 GMT), about 16 hours after the blaze began. But the ferry was still enveloped in dense smoke, which the Coast Guard probably said was being fueled by some hotspots inside the ship.

Varvitsiotis described the efforts as "one of the most complex search and rescue operations we have dealt with in recent years."

An Italian Air Force helicopter pilot said smoke was invading the helicopter cabin, making rescue even more challenging.

"With the wind, smoke entered into the helicopter cabin, acrid smoke," Maj. Antonio Laneve told Italian state TV. Some of those they were trying to rescue were very frightened of being hoisted up by helicopter given the adverse weather, he said.

Nine of those evacuated were taken to the Italian town of Lecce, authorities said. Of those, three children and a pregnant woman were being treated for hypothermia in Lecce hospital. Dr. Raffaele Montinaro said the children were in "excellent" condition, and emergency room doctor, Antonio Palumbo, said the mother's condition was also good.

The Italian Navy said the man who died and his injured wife were transported by helicopter to the southern Italian city of Brindisi. It was unclear how the death and injury occurred, but the Greek Coast Guard said the pair — both Greek passengers — were found in a lifeboat rescue chute.

The second injury was to a member of the Italian military involved in the rescue operation, Coast Guard Admiral Giovanni Pettorino said.

Pettorino told Italy's Sky TG24 TV that two Italian tugs tried to attach themselves to the ferry in the evening, but were frustrated by the thick smoke.

Passengers described scenes of terror and chaos when the fire broke out as they slept in their cabins.

"They called first on women and children to be evacuated from the ship," Vassiliki Tavrizelou, who was rescued along with her 2-year-old daughter, told The Associated Press.

"Ships could not approach us because of the rain and winds," Tavrizelou said in a telephone interview from Lecce. "We were at least four hours on the deck, in the cold and rain."

She recalled the ship alarm going off and seeing fire from her cabin. "Then we heard explosions," she said. It was not immediately clear what the explosions were, and the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

Passenger Giorgos Stiliaras told Greek Mega TV that passengers were having trouble breathing with all the smoke. "We are outside, we are very cold, the ship is full of smoke," he said by telephone. "The boat is still burning, the floors are boiling." He recalled people being awakened by "the smell of burning plastic."

The ship, run by a Greek ferry company, was packed with holidaymakers and truck drivers making the popular transport run between Greece and Italy. Of those on board, 234 passengers and 34 crew are Greek, said Greek Merchant Marine spokesman Nikos Lagadianos.

Other passengers are from several other countries, including Turkey, Albania, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France. The crew is Greek and Italian.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was in contact with his Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi, to coordinate the operation.
227 are still trapped there, right now

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http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/12...-catches-fire/
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/12...it-their-turn/
http://www.vesselfinder.com/news/266...t-500-on-board

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Old 12-29-2014, 03:58 AM
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Re: One Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island

I'd hop in the water and go for a swim Mediterranean is a fucking bathtub compared to the lakes here.

Checked the surface temps and it's 16c, that would give someone hours of swimming before hypothermia and there would be plenty of boats on the way to assist.

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Old 12-29-2014, 04:04 AM
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Re: One Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island

The lakes here in the summer get about that warm, give or take a few depending in where you are.

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Old 12-29-2014, 04:22 AM
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Re: One Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island

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I'd hop in the water and go for a swim Mediterranean is a fucking bathtub compared to the lakes here.

Checked the surface temps and it's 16c, that would give someone hours of swimming before hypothermia and there would be plenty of boats on the way to assist.
The only one who tried to do so last night, died in less than an hour due to hypothermia: it's the only victim so far.
It's true, the water is relatively warm BUT the outer temperature is constantly below 0°c (it reached -5°c last night).
Not nice when you're wet and you have to struggle with waves 6 meters tall and winds of 7/8 on the Beaufort scale: yesterday the chief of the rescuers explained that to dive into the water is equal to a suicide as the chances to survive under those conditions for more than one hour are extremely close to zero.
Apparently they managed to extinguish the fires, 168 are still on board but the weather conditions improved, so hopefully this will end relatively well.

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Old 12-29-2014, 04:55 AM
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Re: One Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island

From what I read the one guy who died was found in a lifeboat rescue chute, not from hypothermia in the water. The only people with hypothermia are the ones on board.

I cant see how being soaking wet in -5c temps and ridiculous winds would be better then swimming in 16c water in terms of how fast you would get hypothermia. Even from personal experience, falling in lakes, rivers and shit during winter, you are always colder when you get out of the water and now you are wet and exposed to the harsh blowing winter winds vs the relatively warmer water.

The 6m waves that's a whole new ballgame.

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Old 12-29-2014, 05:05 AM
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Re: One Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island

How awful; one can't run away to safety on a boat.
I wonder how if the ferry had safety/fire prevention violations, that's a bad blaze.

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Old 12-29-2014, 05:50 AM
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Re: One Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Island

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Originally Posted by bob351 View Post
From what I read the one guy who died was found in a lifeboat rescue chute, not from hypothermia in the water. The only people with hypothermia are the ones on board.

I cant see how being soaking wet in -5c temps and ridiculous winds would be better then swimming in 16c water in terms of how fast you would get hypothermia. Even from personal experience, falling in lakes, rivers and shit during winter, you are always colder when you get out of the water and now you are wet and exposed to the harsh blowing winter winds vs the relatively warmer water.
He died after diving in the water in a desperate attempt to reach one of the lifeboats on which was his family: according to some witnesses he jumped and tried to swim, according to some others he fell from the Jacob's ladder while trying to descend it, then the body was eventually recovered by the crew of one lifeboat: tonight some news said that he died of Hypothermia, but it's up to the coroner to establish the cause of death, many reports are conflicting.
What's even worse, is that the tragedy happened before the eyes his wife and his children.
When the captain ordered to the passengers to abandon the ship he recommended to try to avoid any contact with the water. Many others tried to jump and were stopped by other passengers and crew members: in some areas the floor was so hot that the shoes were melting.
Honestly, i thought this would end worse, much worse.
The biggest problem was (is no longer) that the SAR operations were limited to helicopters, as it was impossible for the boats to approach the ship and the lifeboats due to the crazy weather conditions, so it would take much time to be rescued.

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Old 12-29-2014, 07:45 AM
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Re: Five Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Islan

Update: as just confirmed by Italian PM, the death toll climbed to 5: and counting, as apparently there was an unknown amount of illegal immigrant on board. A turkish citizen just claimed to have spotted four more bodies.
Also the wife of the greek citizen explained that she was in the water along her husband and witnessed to his agony: (he kept saying "wer'e dying, we're dying"...)
She was rescued four hours after.
She's now hospitalized with a broken leg.

I knew only one dead was too good to be true

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Old 12-29-2014, 11:56 AM
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Re: Five Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Islan


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Old 12-29-2014, 04:27 PM
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Re: Five Dead, Hundreds Trapped After Fire Breaks Out on Ferry Near Greek Islan

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Italian coast guard raises the death toll in ferry fire to 10 after 2 more bodies recovered.

It reported that 427 people have been rescued.

The Italian coast guard earlier said that all remaining passengers had been evacuated from the vessel, with the boat's commander finally leaving the ship at 2:50 p.m. Monday.

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