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Greece ferry fire: Passenger found alive on ship near Corfu but 11 still missing

One of the passengers missing on the burning Italian ferry off the Greek island of Corfu has been found alive and rescued, the coastguard said on Sunday.

The 21-year-old who says he is from Belarus was found in the back of the Euroferry Olympia in apparent good condition.

“Tell me I’m alive!” he shouted at rescuers, according to the Proto Thema newspaper.

Rescuers had previously detected his presence and were able to board the ship to provide first aid and evacuate him via a ladder, Greek authorities said.

The man is one of a dozen truck drivers missing. Rescue teams are still looking for the other 11, eight of whom are believed to be Bulgarian nationals.

The Italian-owned ferry, which was carrying more than 290 passengers and crew, as well as 153 trucks and 32 cars, caught fire on Friday, three hours after leaving Greece’s northwestern port of Igoumenitsa , on the mainland, to Brindisi, Italy.

The Greek Coast Guard and other boats evacuated around 280 people to the neighboring island of Corfu. One of the two passengers rescued on Saturday evening was not listed on the ship’s manifest and is believed to be a migrant.

The vessel is being slowly towed to the port of Kassiopi in northeast Corfu by three tugs, authorities said. Firefighters were still battling the blaze which, although confined to certain spaces, flares up from time to time, and thick smoke hangs over the ship.

Extreme temperatures in parts of the ship prevented rescuers – made up of the Greek Fire Department’s Disaster Management Unit and a team of private operator rescuers – from searching the entire vessel. The ferry is lolling slightly from the tons of water pouring on it, but authorities say it is in no danger of capsizing.

A Greek prosecutor on the island of Corfu has ordered an investigation into the cause of the fire. The Italian company that operates the ferry said the fire started in a slipway where vehicles were parked.

The ship’s captain and two engineers were arrested on Friday but released the same day, authorities said.

The passengers described a dramatic rescue situation.

“We heard the alarm. We thought it was some kind of exercise. But we saw through the portholes that people were running,” truck driver Karaolanidis told the AP on Saturday. “You can’t think of anything at that time (other than) your family. .. Fortunately, they (the crew) acted quickly.

Officials said those rescued included citizens of Albania, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Italy and Lithuania.

euronews Gt

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