A Norman Atlantic boat with Italian flag conveying 466 persons including passengers and crew members had reportedly gone up in flames in the early hours of today, Sunday, December 28, 2014 in gale-force winds off the Greek Island of Corfu.
The fire broke out on the car deck of the ferry which was going to Ancona, Italy from the Greek port of Patras with 411 passengers and 55 crew members on board.
Following the unfortunate occurrence, the authorities were compelled to order that the ferry be evacuated.
Although nobody was injured in the mishap, authorities disclosed that the ship was not in immediate danger of sinking.
Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said a life boat carrying about 150 passengers had been lowered into the water, but that only 35 had been moved to a nearby ferry so far because of the difficult weather conditions, Metro UK reports said.
He said, ‘This is a very difficult, a very complex rescue operation. ‘The visibility is poor and the weather conditions are difficult.’
‘We are in constant contact with Italian authorities and the Greek armed forces. We are committed to rescuing everyone on the ship, and are trying to ensure that nobody will be left unaided.’
Meanwhile, Greek authorities revealed that about five helicopters and a military transport plane have been called to the area to assist in the operation, with the ship reported to be 42 nautical miles (48 miles) northwest of Corfu.