Monday, 29 December 2014 - 14:30
Five die in Italy ferry fire; Dutch truck driver rescued
Five people were killed in the fire on the ferry Norman Atlantic. This was confirmed by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzy and the Greek Minister of Shipping, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis. The Italian Navy has announced that all other passengers were rescued. One of the passengers was the Dutch truck driver Joran de Vre. He was rescued from the ferry with a helicopter and is now safely on board an Italian naval vessel, according to his employer, Verdijk Transport from Boxmeer. For a time De Vre's condition was uncertain. His employer had contact with him around 18:00 yesterday, but after that no communication was possible. De Vre managed to call his employer from the naval vessel. He was delivering a load in Greece and was on board the ferry on his way back to Italy. Earlier today a Turkish passenger reported that he had seen four dead. "With my own eyes, I'm sure", said the Turkish man. "It was, I believe, two men and two women, but in the dark I could not see well." The man told his story when he and 48 other passengers were rescued by a merchant ship and taken to the Italian port of Bari, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported. "I also saw about ten people fall from a lifeboat into the water, but I do not know what became of them." the man continued. Passengers speak of a horror scenario. "We burn and drown here and no one can save us", a Greek passenger said to the rescue service over the phone. Another crew member told how his shoes started to melt as he waited for rescue. Because of the turbulent sea and bad weather, it took a long time for rescuers to reach the ferry. A number of passengers plunged into the water in panic, but could be rescued from the ocean. Others fled to the deck and stood in the cold and rain, waiting for help. Several passengers and crew members have been hospitalized with hypothermia. The public prosecutor in Bari has begun an investigation into the fire, according to Italian news agency ANSA. The investigation will show whether the fire was caused by arson.