Nine Bulgarians on Burning Ferry's Passenger List, Foreign Ministry Says

Incidents | December 28, 2014, Sunday // 21:13|  views

A handout frame grab footage provided by Italian State Broadcaster RaiNews24 shows the rescue operation of the ferry Norman Atlantic on fire in the Adriatic Sea, 28 December 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES

Nine Bulgarian citizens are on the list of passengers of Italian-flagged ferry Norman Atlantic burning in the Adriatic Sea since Sunday morning, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said. 

According to official information provided by Greece’s Foreign Ministry, the names of the nine Bulgarian nationals are: S. Argirova, R.Todorova, A. Asenov, V. Dospatliev, Krasimir Estov, H. Haitov, M. Mosavitsky, S. Bozhilova and P. Nenova, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said in a statement.

Greek newspaper Vima reported earlier on Sunday that seven Bulgarian nationals were among the passengers trapped on the Norman Atlantic which is now drifting in rough seas some 55 km off the Italian Adriatic coast.

At the moment, there is no information available as to how many of the nine Bulgarians had actually boarded the ferry, or how many had been evacuated by the Greek search and rescue teams and the Italian Coast Guard which is currently coordinating the operation after strong winds and waves as high as five meters battered the helpless vessel out of Greek waters.

Helicopters are being used to airlift passengers from the helpless ferry because extremely bad weather conditions hampered rescue efforts by other ships in the area. The rescued passengers are being carried to nearby passenger ships Spirit of Piraeus and Cruise Europa. 

Nearly two-thirds of the ferry is on fire, according to Greek media reports. The passengers still trapped on board have been moved to a secured portion of the ferry’s uppermost deck. 

Italian and Greek helicopter crews prepared to work through the night to take passengers in pairs off the burning ferry and transfer them to nearby vessels. Each air transfer of a pair of passengers is taking around 15 minutes.

A Greek maritime transport official said earlier 150 people had managed to abandon the ship aboard a rescue boat earlier on Sunday. As night fell, Greek authorities said 156 people were clear of the danger zone.

According to unconfirmed reports, one man has died and two others were injured on the burning ferry.

The 26,900-tonne, roll-on roll-off ferry Norman Atlantic carried nearly 500 passengers and crew from the Greek port of Patras to Ancona in Italy when it sent a distress signal.

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Tags: Cruise Europa, Spirit of Piraeus, Patras, Ancona, crew, passengers, Norman Atlantic, Adriatic, greece, Italy, fire, Foreign Ministry, Bulgaria, ferry


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