The MS Norman Atlantic ferry, which is owned by Italian company Visemar di Navigazione, caught fire off the coast of Corfu on Dec. 28. Experts said that the confirmed death toll from this accident has risen to seven. One of these deaths was a man who was simply trying to escape from the ship. Another six bodies were found after the rescue efforts were over.
One of the confirmed deaths was a 62-year-old man. Both he and his wife were injured when they slipped and fell when trying to reach the lifeboats. Another lady, 56-year-old Teodora Douli, said that her husband died trying to make it to the lifeboats. She said that he fell and hit his head; she tried to save him but it was tool late.
Thankfully, the remaining passengers have all been removed from the ship. According to officials, they were able to safely remove nearly 400 people. This rescue effort was more difficult than others thanks to gale-force winds that blew flames and thick smoke about the ship. In traditional fashion, the captain of the ferry was the last person to be rescued, nearly 36 hours after first sending out the distress signal.
Officials say that they are not sure what caused the fire. Visemar di Navigazione said that there were 478 people on the ferry. Passengers were travelling from the Greek city of Patras to the Italian city of Ancona. Although officials don’t know what caused the fire, they are determined to figure it out. In fact, Italian prosecutors said on Monday, Dec. 29, that they have opened a criminal investigation. They want to know if it was negligence or the bad weather that contributed to the fire.
Helicopters were working throughout the night to save people who were in the water, using night vision equipment to spot them. Due to how cold the water was, rescue workers were worried about them getting hypothermia. Major Antonio Lanneve, an Italian Air Force pilot, was one of the men who worked a helicopter. He said that it was hard to rescue people because of the acrid smoke coming from the ship. Since this ship was carrying cars, there was a lot of gasoline on board, and the fire simply couldn’t be put out.