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Passengers feared missing and two people trapped on burning vessel in Greece

Two truck drivers are stuck inside a burning ferry in Greece, as authorities scramble to save them.

Authorities said that several passengers and crew members had been rescued from a fire that engulfed a ferry bound for Italy.

However, it is feared that 11 people are missing, almost eight hours after the ship burst into flames.

A passenger from Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia disembarks from a Greek coast guard vessel at the port of Corfu, after being rescued from the ship that caught fire off the island of Corfu, Greece, February 18, 2022. Stamatis Katapodis/Eurokinissi via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. GREECE OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN GREECE.
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Almost 300 people were on board the ferry

The Euroferry Olympia is an Italian liner that was headed for Brindisi when the fire broke out in the early hours of Friday morning.

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Coast guard officials said two truck drivers were stranded on the burning vessel awaiting a helicopter rescue, adding that a full check of passenger and crew member lists was expected to take several hours.

The rescued passengers have been taken to Corfu and one crew member and three passengers were admitted to hospital after experiencing difficulty breathing.

“This is a difficult operation and we must remain cautious. The final accounting of the people on board will take place on Corfu when everyone rescued is assembled there,” Greek deputy minister for shipping Costas Katsafados told state-run ERT television.

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The fire broke out in the Ionian Sea three hours after it left the port of Igoumenitsa in northwest Greece.

A passenger from Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia disembarks from a Greek coast guard vessel at the port of Corfu, after being rescued from the ship that caught fire off the island of Corfu, Greece, February 18, 2022. Stamatis Katapodis/Eurokinissi via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. GREECE OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN GREECE.
Image:
A passenger from Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia disembarks from a Greek coast guard vessel at the port of Corfu

According to authorities, there were 239 passengers and 51 crew members on board. The vessel was transporting more than 153 trucks and 32 cars.

The 183m (600ft) ferry is operated by the Grimaldi Group, which is based in Naples, Italy.

Footage released by the Greek coast guard showed thick smoke billowing from the ferry hours after the rescue mission started.

Truck driver Giorgos Parlantzas, who was one of the rescued passengers, recounted what took place on the Euroferry Olympia.

A Greek coast guard vessel carrying a passenger from Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia that caught fire off the island of Corfu, approaches the port on Corfu, Greece, February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Adonis Skordilis
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The fire started in the early hours of Friday morning

“I was sleeping in my cabin when they came to alert us. I grabbed my ID and headed for the deck where people were being assembled. It must have been about 3am or 4am. And we were put on to boats,” Mr Parlantzas told the Associated Press news agency.

Rescued passengers, many wrapped in foil blankets, arrived in Corfu aboard the Italian inspection vessel and were being taken to an assembly area where paramedics were carrying out first aid checks, local officials said.

Italy’s customs agency said 243 people were rescued by its vessel.

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