Burning Ferry Off Greece Towed Towards Albanian Coast, 11 Dead, Passenger List Unknown

    The number of Greek survivors off the burning ferryboat “Norman Atlantic,” has risen to 235 while the fate of dozens of passengers, due to the continuing confusion with the official passengers list remains unknown.

    Within the following hours, Italian navy vessel “San Giorgio” arrived to the Italian eastern port of Brindisi carrying 200 survivors, 130 of whom are Greek, raising the number of Greek survivors to 236. Meanwhile, the death toll rises dramatically, while so far 11 deaths have been confirmed by both the Greek and Italian authorities. Today, the identity of the second Greek who died, Kostas Koufopoulos was confirmed by the Greek Embassy in Rome. In addition, two Albanian sailors (56 and 59 years old) died during the towing operation of “Norman Atlantic” last night. The ferry is expected to arrive at the western Albanian port of Vlore (Avlona).

    The Italian authorities are not yet aware of the actual number of survivors nor the real number of passengers traveling on board the Norman Atlantic during its disastrous route. According to the Chief Prosecutor of Bari, who is responsible for the case, there are no records for a total of 179 passengers. At the same time, the agony and anger of the passenger’s relatives is overflowing.

    Designated areas organized for the victims are in a panic, as chances are high that there were many undocumented passengers and/or survivors who are not registered on the survivor lists. Based on the records of the company which owns the ship, the known number of passengers at the moment stands at 478, although media revealed today that this number has changed to 475. At noon, the Chief Prosecutor of Bari stated that when the fire broke out there were 499 people on board.

    Parallel to the attempts of verifying the exact number of passengers, there is also a new rescue operation being organized to track possible castaways, as there are fears that the death toll could increase because of enlisted passengers that have not been identified as survivors. From the Greek side, two S-70 helicopters of the Hellenic Navy are involved as well as an AB-205 of the Hellenic Air Force.