Hopes are fading for the ten people who remain missing five days after a fire scorched a ferry that had been traveling from Greece to Italy.
Firefighters are still fighting to put out the blaze on the Euroferry Olympia, which is currently still floating off the northern coast of Corfu, on Tuesday.
Thankfully, most of the passengers were evacuated quickly after the fire began on Friday, but ten individuals are still missing.
Rescue mission continues for 10 missing on fire-stricken ferry in Greece
Over 40 Greek search and rescue forces, with the help of Dutch and Greek specialists, are searching for the people who remain missing after the blaze began on Friday.
There were around 300 passengers and crew aboard the ship at the time of the fire, and nearly all of them were evacuated safely.
So far, only one person has been confirmed dead from the ferry fire, a 58-year-old truck driver from Greece.
The ten missing are also truck drivers — seven Bulgarians, two Greeks, and one Turk. A 21-year-old truck driver from Belarus was found alive after a dramatic rescue on Sunday, two days after the fire began.
Members of the Fire Service’s special Disaster Management Unit were able to locate the man from Belarus who was seen moving near the stern of the ship. Incredibly, he was unharmed.
Many of the passengers on the ferry were truck drivers who were transporting goods throughout Europe.
According to the Greek Truckers’ Union, the reason that the missing are all truck drivers is because they chose to sleep in their vehicles instead of the cabins on the ferry, which they called “unsuitable.”
Grimaldi Lines, the owner of the ferry, stated that the accusation was false, as the ferry was inspected two days before the fire and it was deemed satisfactory.
The search has not been easy — operations were paused on Monday evening due to still-smoldering fires, dense smoke, and high temperatures on the ship made recovery impossible. Many of these fires are still blazing in the vessel as of Tuesday.
Due to these conditions, search and rescue officers can only be inside the ship for 30 minutes at a time, and all of the responders must wear special uniforms and oxygen tanks while working.
There may be more missing on Euroferry Olympia than initially believed
In addition to difficult conditions, there are also fears that there are a higher number of missing people than initially believed, as there were likely a number of passengers on the ferry who were not included on the official list of passengers.
This realization hit rescuers after they helped two people from Afghanistan — who were not on the passenger logs — evacuate from the ship after the fire.
As soon as the fire is put out and the missing persons are located, rescue crews will pump out the remaining oil from the ship in order to neutralize the risk of marine pollution.
When feasible, the ferry will be towed to a safe port in accordance with the instructions of the ship-owning company and after consultation with the relevant authorities.
At the same time, a team of the Hellenic Bureau for Marine Casualties Investigation (HBMCI) is already at the island of Corfu to investigate the causes of the fire, in collaboration with the relevant Italian authority, called the Direzione Generale Investigation Ferroviarie e Maritime (DIGIFEMA).
The families of the three missing Greek nationals are also on Corfu, accompanied by a Hellenic Coast Guard officer/psychologist, by order of Shipping & Island Policy Minister Giannis Plakiotakis.