Five Dead On Burning Italian Ferry With 478 People Onboard

Five people have died and 59 are still awaiting rescue after a blaze on an Italian ferry off the island of Corfu, Greek authorities say.

One man is known to have died trying to escape the ship, and a further four bodies have been recovered from the sea.

Helicopter crews have been winching people to safety despite gale-force winds and thick smoke.

The Italian navy said that 419 of the 478 people on board had been evacuated.

It is still unclear what caused the fire to break out on a car deck on Sunday.

The first rescue ship carrying 49 people evacuated from the ferry arrived at the Italian port of Bari early on Monday morning, BBC reported.

Helicopters crews fitted with night vision equipment worked through the night to rescue passengers despite difficult conditions. One hundred people were taken off the ferry during the night, the Italian coast guard said.

Strong winds and bad weather have hampered efforts to rescue the remaining passengers from the ferry. Italian and Greek ships have helped lift people from the ship, and some were led to safety aboard nearby merchant ships.

Helicopters also carried out rescue operations throughout the night, battling gusts of almost 50mph as they lifted passengers from the vessel. Others stuck on board were given blankets while they waited to be saved.

The fire broke out before dawn yesterday on a car deck of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic. Passengers huddled on the vessel’s upper decks throughout the day and night, pelted by rain and hail.