The Euroferry Olympia will be towed to port in Platygiali, Greece where a search will continue for ten people still missing after the roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry (ro-pax) caught fire early last Friday.
The Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia was about 10 miles north of the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea when the fire started in one of the ship’s three garage decks during a regular voyage from Igoumenitsa, Greece to the Port of Brindisi in Italy.
The ship’s operator, Grimaldi Group, reported that vessel was carrying 239 passengers and 51 crew members along with 153 commercial vehicles, such as trucks and trailer, and 32 passenger vehicles at the time of the fire. Many of the passengers were truck drivers.
Rescuers from the Italian Guardia di Finanza and Greek Coast Guard managed to rescue hundreds of people from the burning vessel, but thirteen had initially remained missing. Amazingly, two survivors were located in the vessel on Sunday, but later in the day searchers also found the fatality in the cabin of a truck, leaving 10 still missing.
In a statement published Sunday by the Grimaldi Group, the company responed to allegations from the Greek Union of Professional Truck Drivers that the vessel was in poor condition, reitering that the ferry had undergone a Port State Control inspection, including smoke detection and firefighting systems, on February 16th by Greek authorities. The company also stated that passenger access to the garage decks is strictly forbidden during navigation, according to international safety regulations.
“If any truck driver decides fraudulently to hide himself in his truck, this behaviour is a flagrant offense against International Regulations and Grimaldi rules which can put at risk his own and the ship’s safety,” the company said.
Relaying an update from the Greek Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy, the Hellenic Coast Guard on Tuesay said that the possiblity for search and rescue to continue, in the ship’s current state and position, had been exhausted, and that the ship would be towed to port in Platygiali.
Grimaldi Group has appointed the Dutch company SMIT Salvage, part of Boskalis, for the salvage operation.
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