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Ten dead and dozens missing after the Norman Atlantic disaster

29 December 2014 / 22:12:14  GRReporter
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A spokesman for the Greek Ministry of the Merchant Marine has officially announced that 10 people have died in the fire on the ferry Norma Atlantic, which broke out early on Sunday, 28 December. Fortunately, the previous concerns about 38 missing have not been confirmed and the same source has reported 18 people missing.

The rescue operation is complete, all living people on board the burning ferry have been evacuated, including the ship's crew and captain himself. On board the Norman Atlantic, there are only commandos of the Italian Coast Guard who are searching the premises, hoping to find survivors. The nationality and identity of the victims have not yet been reported; it has been known since yesterday that a 67-year-old Greek had died in the accident.

There is no clarity on the number either of the people missing, or of those rescued, or even of the passengers on board the Norman Atlantic. The official list of passengers contains 478 names, including those of 7 Bulgarian citizens. The Italian authorities, however, argue that the passengers are 20 less. At the same time, the Greek side has disseminated the personal data of a crewmember’s spouse who has been rescued from the fire on the ferry and whose name does not appear on the official list.

Many survivors claim that there were illegal immigrants on board who had jumped into the water. The number of Bulgarians on board is unclear too, as initially they were 7, then 9, and now 11.     

Tonight the Cruise Europa ferry with 69 Greeks rescued from the sea tragedy on board arrived at Igoumenitsa port. Ambulances and Red Cross teams met the victims, the majority of whom are suffering from hypothermia due to the long stay in the open air at low temperatures and heavy rain, but also from dehydration, as they have spent dozens of hours without drinking water.

"I went to the car to get cigarettes. Suddenly I heard a loud noise, I turned around and saw not flames but lava pouring onto a parked car and melting it. I tried to run, but there was no way to do so. There were 5-6 of us in the garage at that time. We grabbed the fire extinguishers but they did not work. The flames were everywhere. I realized that I could choose between being burnt alive or jumping into the sea. I jumped. Long hours passed before a little boat came and rescued me." This is the testimony of a Greek survivor of the tragedy.

The Greek survivors who have had the opportunity to speak before the local media are clear - the ship crew was invisible during the tragedy. They did not help the passengers and they were indifferent and incompetent. Experts attribute the behaviour of the crew members to incompetence and lack of training rather than evil intent. As we have already reported, the port authorities in Patras had established considerable shortages of lifebuoys and boats as well as gaps in the operational evacuation plans in the case of disaster as early as 19 December.

Greek Minister of Defence Nikos Dendias has expressed doubts about the correctness of the decisions made by the Italian authorities. According to him, the Greek side has much more advanced and modern lifesaving equipment of which the Italian authorities had not made use, although the technical equipment and crew were in a state of full alert on the island of Corfu. The Greek authorities are puzzled as tp why the rescue operation was delayed by hours, why the blaze-stricken ship did not set off to the nearest port at the time of the fire outbreak, why it did not at least drop anchor where it was when the disaster was established.

Tags: Norman AtlanticVictimsMissingCrewOmissions
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