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Death toll in the Greek ferry fire rises to 10

(Agencies) Updated: 2014-12-30 09:06

Death toll in the Greek ferry fire rises to 10

Truck driver Christos Perlis, who was rescued from the Norman Atlantic ferry, is hugged by his brother after arriving at the port of Igoumenitsa in northwestern Greece December 29, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

Of the 10 dead, one Greek man died Sunday trying to get into a lifeboat, with his wife, who survived; and four bodies were recovered from the sea on Monday. The circumstances and identities of the other three were unknown.

The fire broke out before dawn Sunday on a car deck of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic. All day and night, passengers huddled on the vessel's upper decks, pelted by rain and hail and struggling to breathe through the thick smoke.

Exhausted and cold from their ordeal, the largest group of 49 passengers reached land Monday in the southern Italian port of Bari, more than 24 hours after the fire began.

Evacuees, many wrapped in blankets, made their way gingerly down the exterior stairs with assistance, some thrusting their hands in a victory sign as they waited their turn. Among them were four children. The evacuees then boarded bright red fire department buses. Officials have said hotels have been booked for them around town.

Later Monday, one of the rescue ships arrived at the Greek port of Igoumenitsa, carrying some 69 rescued ferry passengers among the roughly 500 people on board, while seven people had been airlifted from the ferry to Corfu.

But many rescued passengers remained on boats still searching off the Albanian coast. Authorities said they eventually would be taken by helicopter to land to allow the search to continue, without specifying where.

The Greek and Italian premiers separately expressed their condolences to the victims and gratitude to the rescue workers for persisting throughout the night in worsening weather conditions, against winds over 40 knots (75 kph; 46 mph).

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