CORFU, Greece – A badly burned body said to be that of a 58-year-0ld Greek truck driver was found in the cab of his vehicle by firefighters still trying to put out a ferry boat blaze three days after it started.
There was no name given but Kathimerini said his family identified the remains found in the truck that was in a hold for vehicles where it was believed the fire on the Euroferry Olympia started, no report how it started or if there was an automatic fire suppressent system in place.
Some 280 passengers and crew were rescued but a dozen people were reported missing although a passenger from Belarus was spotted and taken off alive even as the ship burned and he said he had heard voices of others trapped below. Two men who were airlifted by rescuers off the ferry and a third man who managed to free himself and reach the deck of the vessel after being trapped for more than two days.
The ferry had been on its way to the Italian port of Brindisi from Igoumenitsa in Greece when it was engulfed by flames off the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea, many of the passengers truck owners or drivers taking goods through Europe.
A total of 10 people, all Bulgarian, Turkish and Greek nationals, are still missing, according to the Coast Guard, said Reuters, the news agency video footage showing rescuers climing a stepladder to the to vessel as a tug boat towed it toward shore.
Relatives of the missing passengers waited for news outside the port authority on Corfu, among them the family of Greek truck driver Nikos Bekiaris, a father of three.
“I feel certain that my husband is alive because he is a professional, he is experienced, he knows how to look after himself. He is waiting for help,″ the missing driver’s wife, Vania Bekiari told the AP, her voice breaking with emotion.
Aerial footage released by the Greek Coast Guard showed rows of burnt trucks on the blackened deck after flames swept through the ship. The ferry was carrying 153 vehicles, the ferry boat company also said.
A group of truck drivers who survived the ordeal arrived back in Bulgaria and recounted the horror of the ordeal as the fire broke out in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 18, the second time in eight years a ferry boat leaving Greece burned.
“Once we were in the boats we saw the huge flames. Everything burned, the losses are big, but I am glad we are alive and we will see our families,” truck driver Rumen Cholakov told Bulgarian Nova TV.
(Matterial from Associated Press was used in this report)