ATHENS, Greece – A survivor was rescued from the stern of a still-burning passenger ferry on Sunday morning, the Greek Coast Guard said. 11 people are still missing.
A Coast Guard spokesman told The Associated Press the man, a Belarusian, was found in what appeared to be good condition on the left rear side of the Euroferry Olympia.
“The fact that this man, despite adverse circumstances, managed to get off deck and alert the Coast Guard… gives us hope that there may be others (survivors),” Coast Guard spokesman Nikos Alexiou told the state broadcaster ERT.
The rescued survivor, a man in his 20s, is driving a truck with Lithuanian license plates. Other details about him were not available at the time.
The survivor told his rescuers he heard other voices below deck. Alexiou said his understanding was that he didn’t hear any just before he went on deck, but added that “the situation is evolving”.
The survivor was taken to a hospital as a precaution.
The Italian-owned ferry, which was carrying more than 290 passengers and crew and 153 trucks and 32 cars, caught fire on Friday, three hours after it left the mainland’s northwest Greek port of Igoumenitsa bound for Brindisi. Italy. The Greek Coast Guard and other boats evacuated about 280 people to the nearby island of Corfu.
One of two passengers rescued on Saturday was not on the ship’s register and is believed to be a migrant. The other person rescued on Saturday, a 65-year-old Bulgarian truck driver, had breathing problems and was put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of a Corfu hospital.
The ferry was towed by three tugboats into the port of Kassiopi in northeast Corfu, authorities said. Firefighters were still battling the blaze which, despite specific spaces, flares up from time to time and thick smoke hangs over the ship.
Extreme temperatures in some parts of the ship have prevented rescuers, consisting of the Hellenic Fire Brigade’s civil protection unit and a team of rescuers from private operators, from searching the entire ship. The ferry is tilted slightly from the tons of water that has been poured into it, but authorities say it is in no danger of capsizing.
A Greek prosecutor on the island of Corfu has ordered investigations into the cause of the fire. The Italy-based company that operates the ferry said the fire started in a hold where vehicles were parked.
The ship’s captain and two engineers were arrested on Friday but released the same day, authorities said.
Passengers described a dramatic rescue situation.
“We heard the alarm. We thought it would be some kind of exercise. But we saw through the portholes that people were running,” truck driver Dimitris Karaolanidis told AP on Saturday. “You can’t think of anything at the time (except) your family… When I came on deck I saw smoke and children. Luckily they (the crew) acted quickly.”
Officials said those rescued included citizens of Albania, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Italy and Lithuania.