Ships and helicopters are taking part in a major rescue operation after an Italian ferry carrying 478 people caught fire around 40 nautical miles north-west of Corfu. The Norman Atlantic was travelling from Patras in Greece to Ancona in Italy. Choppy seas and strong winds are hampering the rescue. One person has died and another injured, Greek and Italian officials say. 161 people have been rescued. Most of those on board were Greek. Others come from Italy, Turkey, Albania, Germany and many other countries, officials say.
Italian media say the fire broke out on the ferry’s car deck early on Sunday morning. “This is a complicated rescue mission. The visibility is poor and the weather conditions are difficult, but we are confident because there are a good number of ships in the area,” Greece Merchant Marine Minister Militiadis Varvitsiotis said. Italian and Albania teams are also taking part in the rescue operation. Ferries are an important mode of transport between Greece’s hundreds of islands as well as neighbouring countries.