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Rescued ferry passengers arrive in Italy, 149 still stranded - Reuters

Rescued ferry passengers arrive in Italy, 149 still stranded - Reuters 



A wounded passenger is helped as he leaves from the ' Spirit of Piraeus ' cargo container ship after the car ferry Norman Atlantic caught fire in waters off Greece December 29, 2014.




ATHENS/BARI Mon Dec 29,
2014 4:05am EST

1 of 11. A wounded passenger is helped as he leaves
from the ' Spirit of Piraeus ' cargo container ship after the car ferry Norman
Atlantic caught fire in waters off Greece December 29, 2014.


Credit: Reuters/Stringer
ATHENS/BARI
(Reuters) - Passengers from a car ferry, ablaze off the coast of Greece, arrived
in Italy on Monday as rescue teams worked to save 149 people still stranded on
board 24 hours after the fire started.


Rescuers worked through the night to pull 329 people off the multideck ferry,
the Italian navy said.

Helicopter crews have been airlifting passengers from the upper deck of the
Norman Atlantic, which caught fire in the early hours of Sunday and began
drifting in rough seas between Greece and Italy.

Bad weather hampered efforts overnight to attach cables to the ferry for
towing, and a tug boat is expected to reach the ship to make another attempt by
10 a.m. local time, Greece's shipping minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told Skai
TV.

No decision had been made on where the ferry would be taken, he said,
although there had been expectations that it would be towed to the Italian port
of Brindisi.

A merchant ship carrying a reported 49 of the ferry passengers, including
four children, arrived in the southern Italian port of Bari on Monday and
Italian Admiral Giovanni di Tullio told Sky TG24 they would receive medical
attention.

Sky and Italian state television RAI reported that one of the people rescued
said he had seen four people dead, but there was no confirmation of the report.


A medical team and a flight operator had boarded the stricken vessel to
assist the passengers and crew as the rescue proceeds, the navy said.

After initial rescue efforts were impeded by bad weather that stopped other
ships getting close, Italian and Greek helicopter crews began the airborne
operation on Sunday afternoon.

The rescue is being coordinated from the Italian navy's amphibious transport
ship the San Giorgio.

Eighty five people had been transferred to the San Giorgio by 0750 GMT and
one person suffering from heart disease was taken to the Italian mainland by
helicopter, the navy said.

One man died on Sunday and four people were reported to be injured. Several
passengers have been flown to Galatina in southern Italy.

The Italian-flagged ferry, chartered by Greek ferry operator Anek Lines, was
sailing between Patros in western Greece to Ancona in Italy carrying 478
passengers and crew and more than 200 vehicles when it caught fire.


















(Reporting by James
Mackenzie
in Athens and Antonio Defano in Bari; Additional reporting by
George Georgiopoulos and Isla Binnie; Editing by Louise
Ireland
)
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