Dec 28, 2014 2:36 AM
Greece: Ferry ordered evacuated after fire
The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece (AP) A ferry carrying 466 people caught fire in gale-force winds off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, forcing authorities to order an evacuation.
The fire broke out on the car deck of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, traveling from the Greek port of Patras to Ancona, Italy with 411 passengers and 55 crew members on board.
No passengers were reported injured, and the ship was not in immediate danger of sinking, authorities said.
Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said a life boat carrying about 150 passengers had been lowered into the water, but that only 35 had been moved to a nearby ferry so far because of the difficult weather conditions.
"This is a very difficult, a very complex rescue operation," he said. "The visibility is poor and the weather conditions are difficult."
"We are in constant contact with Italian authorities and the Greek armed forces. We are committed to rescuing everyone on the ship, and are trying to ensure that nobody will be left unaided."
Greek authorities said they had sent five helicopters and a military transport plane to the area to assist in the operation, with the ship reported to be 42 nautical miles (48 miles, 78 kilometers) northwest of Corfu. Italy was also involved in the rescue effort.
At least seven merchant ships were next to the Norman Atlantic as part of the rescue effort, and being used to form a barrier against the high winds.