Fire burns on ferry in Adriatic; passengers stranded as high waves, gales slow rescue

By The Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 28, 2014 at 7:31 a.m.



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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Rescue helicopters and other ships are struggling to reach a stricken ferry off the Greek island of Corfu.

A Greek Merchant Marine spokesman says a fire broke out on the car deck of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic early this morning. It was traveling from the Greek port of Patras to Ancona, Italy, with 422 passengers and 56 crew members on board. No one has been reported injured, and 117 people have been transported to safety. Eight were airlifted to southern Italy and the rest taken to nearby ships.

The merchant marine spokesman says a lifeboat carrying about 150 passengers has been lowered into the water, and Italian rescue workers started transporting passengers from it by helicopter — two at a time — to a nearby cruise ship. Two tugboats are working to extinguish the fire.

Passengers stranded on a high deck have told Greek media that lifeboats from surrounding vessels have been unable to take them off due to the high seas. One says the fire on the car deck is so intense it's melted the soles of people's shoes.

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APPHOTO LON202: In this photo taken from a nearby ship, smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. The ferry carrying hundreds of passengers caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, trapping passengers on the top decks as gale-force winds and choppy seas hampered the evacuation. (AP Photo/SKAI TV Station) GREECE OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT (28 Dec 2014)

<<APPHOTO LON202 (12/28/14)££

APPHOTO XTS105: In this photo taken from a nearby ship, smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic ferry after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. The ferry carrying some hundreds of passengers caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, trapping passengers on the top decks as gale-force winds and choppy seas hampered their evacuation. (AP Photo/SKAI TV Station) GREECE OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT (28 Dec 2014)

<<APPHOTO XTS105 (12/28/14)££

APPHOTO XTS104: In this photo taken from a nearby boat showing a life raft from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic ferry after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. The ferry carrying some hundreds of passengers caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, trapping passengers on the top decks as gale-force winds and choppy seas hampered their evacuation. (AP Photo/SKAI TV Station) GREECE OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT (28 Dec 2014)

<<APPHOTO XTS104 (12/28/14)££

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The Associated Press

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