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At Least 10 Dead After Ferry Fire Off Greek Coast

In this image provided by the Italian navy, smoke billows from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea on Sunday.
Italian Navy via AP
In this image provided by the Italian navy, smoke billows from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea on Sunday.

Update at 7:50 pm. Death Toll Rises To 10:

The death toll has climbed to 10, but dozens of passengers are still missing from a Greek ferry that caught fire. Authorities have been unable to determine exactly how many people were on board.

The Associated Press reports that 427 were rescued but many names of survivors were not on the ship's manifest, suggesting they may have been traveling illegally. Originally the ferry company said there were 478 passengers and crew.

Update at 1:27 p.m. ET. Rescue Operations Over:

After a harrowing rescue operation that involved airlifting hundreds of passengers off a burning ferry off the coast of Greece, most are now safe.

The AP reports:

"Italian premier says evacuation of Greek ferry is complete, only captain and 4 rescuers remain."

So far, 8 people have died and more than 400 were rescued. The AP reports that authorities are still searching the ferry for potential victims.

Our Original Post Continues:

Greek authorities say five people have now been found dead aboard a burning Italian ferry off the coast of Greece.

The AP reports that 391 passengers have been rescued, but as many as 87 are still on board.

Video from a rescue helicopter showed a harrowing scene: A huge black plume of smoke billowed from the vessel, as stranded passengers waited to be rescued on the deck of the ship.

The AP adds:

"The fire broke out on a car deck on board the Norman Atlantic before dawn Sunday as it sailed from Greece toward Italy.

"Earlier Monday, a group of 49 exhausted people arrived at the Italian port of Bari after they were rescued from a Greek ferry that caught fire in the Adriatic Sea. ...

"At least one person was killed in the precarious rescue operation and two others were injured as Italian and Greek ships and helicopters worked through the night plucking passengers off the stricken vessel and bringing them to safety aboard the 10 or so mercantile boats nearby that were summoned to help."

The New York Times reports that bad weather is hampering rescue operations. The paper adds:

"Helicopters redoubled their efforts after a navy ship with a helipad reached the ferry on Sunday evening. Another naval vessel was heading to the scene on Monday. An Italian coast guard official, Giovanni de Tullio, said on Italian television that stormy weather had been forecast."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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