Rescuers on Friday, February 18, boarded the burning ferry off of Greece and freed two truck drivers stranded inside the ship for 15+ hours, but hope is fading for 11 others who were reported missing.
The team descended from a helicopter onto the vessel through thick clouds of smoke to locate the two men in the Euroferry Olympia ferry who spent hours on the parking deck waiting for help.
The coastguard said that a total of 278 passengers and crew had been rescued earlier in the day from the fire that engulfed the Italy-bound ship with 291 people onboard close to the Greek island of Corfu.
The cause of the fire was unclear. According to the Italy-based shipowner GRIMALDI, the blaze had started in a cargo hold where vehicles had been parked.
Officials confirmed that nationals from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, and Turkey were among the rescued.
The rescued, many wrapped in foil blankets, were transported to Corfu where 10 were hospitalized. Happily, none were in serious condition. Most had breathing difficulties.
The accident took place at ~4:30 am (2:30 UTC) off Corfu's northern coast, between Greece and Albania, the coastguard said.
It was the worst maritime accident in Greece since the 2014's fire on the Norman Atlantic cruiseferry that killed 10 people.
An investigation has begun.