Greece reports first fatality after blaze on ferry, 10 still missing

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Firefighters battling for the third day a blaze on a ferry sailing from Greece to Italy recovered on Sunday the body of a passenger listed as missing, Greek authorities said.

It is the first reported fatality after rescuers managed to take at least 281 out of 292 passengers and crew to safety from a fire which broke out on the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia early on Friday.

Firefighters remove a body from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia. Photo: Hellenic Fire Service/Handout via Reuters.

The ferry had been on its way to the Italian port of Brindisi from Igoumenitsa in Greece when it was engulfed by flames off the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea.

The victim was found in the cabin of a truck in the ship’s hold and had suffered serious burns. According to Ekathimerini, he was identified as a 58-year-old Greek truck driver by his family.

Firefighters remove a body from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia. Photo: Hellenic Fire Service via AP.

A total of 10 people, all Bulgarian, Turkish and Greek nationals, are still unaccounted for.

Earlier on Sunday, rescue teams found a survivor, a 21-year-old man from Belarus, at the stern of the ferry. He was able to make his way up to the left rear deck on his own, and told rescue workers he heard other voices below.

The trucker’s first words were “tell me if I am alive,” according to local media reports.

A survivor from the still burning Euroferry Olympia is escorted by Greek Coast guards as he arrives at the port of Corfu island. Photo: Stamatis Katopodis/InTime News via AP.

“The fact that this man succeeded, despite adverse conditions, to exit into the deck and alert the coast guard… gives us hope that there may be other (survivors),” coast guard spokesman, Nikos Alexiou, told state broadcaster ERT.

Firefighters have been trying for days to contain the fire and cool scorching temperatures on the 183-metre ship to allow emergency crews to board and rescue any survivors.

Smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia. Photo: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris.

The cause of the blaze is still being investigated and the ferry’s captain and two mechanics appeared before a public prosecutor on Saturday as a judicial investigation was formally launched.

Greek officials have described the incident as the worst maritime disaster since 2014, when the Italian-owned passenger ferry, Norman Atlantic, caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, with as many as 22 people losing their lives.

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