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Greek Authorities Suspend Search for 10 Missing in Ferry Fire


FILE - Smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, in the Ionian Sea near the Greek island of Corfu, on Feb. 20, 2022.

Greek authorities have suspended the search for 10 people missing in a ferry fire near Greece. The vessel is being towed to a mainland port five days after the blaze started.

The Euroferry Olympia caught fire last Friday three hours after leaving Igoumenitsa, Greece, for Brindisi, Italy. The ferry was carrying 292 people. Only 278 were evacuated safely to shore.

Ten people remain unaccounted for. Greek officials said they were thought to be truck drivers from Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, BBC News reported.

Greek authorities requested Tuesday that the ferry be towed from a spot off the Island of Corfu, where it was originally towed after the blaze, to a safe harbor on mainland Greece. Rescuers will continue operations once the ferry arrives at the mainland.

Greece's fire service said Tuesday that "its operational capability for search and rescue (on the ship), in its present position, has been exhausted," according to a coast guard statement, The Associated Press reported.

FILE - The gutted remains of trucks stand on the deck of the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, in the Ionian Sea near the island of Corfu, northwestern Greece, Feb. 21, 2022.
FILE - The gutted remains of trucks stand on the deck of the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, in the Ionian Sea near the island of Corfu, northwestern Greece, Feb. 21, 2022.

The ferry is expected to arrive midday in the harbor of Astakos, a small port town in western Greece. Relatives of the missing will be provided with housing in Astakos as the search resumes.

The ferry had been towed Sunday to Corfu, in the Ionian Sea off Greece's northwest coast. Dozens of fire survivors were taken to a hotel on the island. Extreme temperatures, darkness and smoke made it difficult to search the vessel, said Greek coast guard spokesperson Nikolaos Alexiou, according to The New York Times.

Earlier Sunday, a 21-year-old truck driver from Belarus was found alive at the stern of the ferry.

"Tell me I'm alive," he shouted as rescuers helped him off the ferry, BBC News reported.

Hours later, a fire crew found the body of a 58-year-old Greek truck driver, the first confirmed death.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The company that operates the ferry said the fire had begun in a hold where vehicles were parked, AP reported. Truckers interviewed by Greek state TV said Saturday that some truck drivers might have chosen to sleep in their vehicles rather than in the ferry's crowded cabins.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.

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