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One Dead, Hundreds Trapped in Greek Ferry Fire

  • VOA News

In this image provided by the Italian Navy, a helicopter hovers above the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, shown billowing smoke, after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Dec. 28, 2014.

In this image provided by the Italian Navy, a helicopter hovers above the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, shown billowing smoke, after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Dec. 28, 2014.

Italian officials say the fire aboard a Greek ferry off the island of Corfu is under control as efforts to rescue hundreds of trapped passengers continue through the night.

The Italian Coast Guard says at least one person has died.

Rescuers have docked a tugboat to the ferry to help stabilize it after it started listing to one side, putting it in danger of sinking.

At least 192 of the 478 passengers and crew have been rescued so far.

In this photo taken from a nearby boat showing a life raft from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic ferry after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Dec. 28, 2014.

In this photo taken from a nearby boat showing a life raft from the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic ferry after it caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Dec. 28, 2014.

Gale-force winds and high seas have been making rescue efforts difficult. Italian helicopters have been able to pull people off the boat in pairs.

The Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic was carrying cars and passengers across the Adriatic Sea, from the Greek port of Patras to the Italian port of Ancona. The fire broke out on the ferry's car deck, as the vessel was traveling about 80 kilometers northwest of Corfu.

High winds

Greek Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said the bad weather, with winds up to 88 kilometers per hour, has made the rescue very difficult.

"It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done and for which the assistance of multiple forces is needed," Varvitsiotis said.

"Fortunately the ships sailing nearby are sufficient to give us optimism that we have enough forces on the spot to save the human lives that in no case do we want to put at greater risk," Varvitsiotis said.

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