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Dublin: 3°C Sunday 29 November 2020

Confusion over how many passengers survived Norman Atlantic ferry fire

There are serious discrepancies in the ship’s manifest and confusion over how many people were aboard.

Image: AP

THERE IS CONFUSION over the number of passengers who have died in the Norman Atlantic ferry fire.

The death toll climbed to at least 10, with rescuers searching below deck, scouring the surrounding waters for more possible victims amid serious discrepancies in the ship’s manifest and confusion over how many people were aboard.

The vessel’s operator, Anek Lines, said 475 were on the ferry.

But Italian officials said the names on the manifest may have represented just reservations, not actual passengers who boarded.

Greece Ferry Fire Source: AP

Passenger list 


Also, Italian navy Admiral Giovanni Pettorino said 80 of those rescued weren’t on the list at all, giving credence to suggestions from the Italian premier that the ferry may have been carrying a number of immigrants illegally trying to reach Italy.

“We cannot say how many people may be missing,” Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said at an evening news conference.

Passengers have been speaking about their experience on board the ferry, stating that there were no fire alarms at first, no knocks on the door from the crew, just thick, acrid smoke filling cabins and waking passengers on the overnight ferry from Greece to Italy.

In the chaos that followed, passengers said, they received virtually no instructions from the crew.

The principle of women and children first went out the window, and passengers started pushing and shoving and came to blows over seats in the lifeboats and helicopter baskets.


“Everyone there was trampling on each other to get onto the helicopter,” Greek truck driver Christos Perlis told The Associated Press by telephone from one of the rescue vessels summoned after the Italian-flagged ferry caught fire in the Adriatic Sea off Albania early Sunday.

“The jungle law prevailed,” said another Greek passenger, Irene Varsioti. “There was no queue or order. No respect was shown for children.”

The blaze broke out on the car deck of the Norman Atlantic while the ferry was travelling from the Greek port of Patras to Ancona in Italy. The cause of the fire was under investigation. Salvage crews went aboard to assess the damage.

Greece Ferry Fire Source: AP

Greek truck driver Afrosini Bezati said she feared several of her colleagues had perished because they chose to sleep in their rigs where the fire broke out rather than take cabins upstairs.

“I considered doing the same thing, to leave my room after having a shower and going down to sleep in the truck,” she said as she arrived at Elefsina Air Force base near Athens aboard a military plane. “They were stuck and could not get out.”

The Italian military congratulated itself for a remarkable around-the-clock rescue operation in horrendous weather.

“I witnessed an image of hell as described by Dante, on a ship where the decks were melting and we were trying to find some place that was not burning to stand on,” said Greek passenger Chrysostomos Apostolou, a civil engineer who had been vacationing with his wife and sons, ages 8 and 14.

Greece Ferry Fire Source: AP

Some passengers suffered hypothermia, others mild carbon monoxide poisoning, but the first big group to reach land — 49 people who came ashore in Bari just after dawn Monday — walked off their rescue ship on their own, exhausted and draped in blankets to ward off the cold.

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Associated Press

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