Hopes are fading for the 10 people who are still missing 5 days after a fire scorched a cruiseferry sailing from Greece to Italy.
Thankfully, most of the ferry passengers were evacuated right after the fire began on Friday, February 18, but 10 people are still missing.
40+ Greek coastguard search and rescue teams, with the help of Greek and Dutch marine specialists, are searching for the passengers who remain missing after the blaze started on Friday. There were ~300 passengers and crew members onboard the ship at the time of the fire. Nearly all of them were evacuated safely.
Only one person has so far been confirmed dead from the fire, a 58-year-old truck driver from Greece. The 10 missing people are also truck drivers - 7 Bulgarians, 2 Greeks, and 1 Turk. A 21-year-old truck driver from Belarus was found alive following a dramatic rescue on Sunday, a couple of days after the blaze began.
Members of the special Disaster Management Unit of the Fire Service were able to locate the man from Belarus who was seen close to the stern of the ferry, and, incredibly, was unharmed.
Many of the ferry passengers were truck drivers transporting goods throughout Europe.
The Greek Truckers’ Union said the reason that the missing were all truck drivers was that they had chosen to sleep in their vehicles instead of the cabins on the ship, which they called “unsuitable.”
The owner of the ferry, Grimaldi Lines, stated that the accusation was false, as Euroferry Olympia had been inspected 2 days before the fire and had been deemed satisfactory.
Search and rescue officers can only be inside the ferry for 30 minutes at a time. All of the responders must wear oxygen tanks and special uniforms while working.
In addition to hard conditions, there are also fears there were a higher number of missing people than initially believed, as there had been likely a number of passengers onboard who had not been included on the official list of travelers. This hit rescuers after they helped two people from Afghanistan who were not on the passenger logs.
A team of the HBMCI-Hellenic Bureau for Marine Casualties Investigation is already at Corfu Island to investigate the accident, in collaboration with the relevant Italian authority, Direzione Generale Investigation Ferroviarie e Maritime (DIGIFEMA).