Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece

A fire broke out onboard the Ro-Ro passenger ship Norman Atlantic during early morning hours (0400-0600 Greece local time), while the vessel was north of Kerkyra, Greece close to Othonoi island. Onboard the vessel there are approximately 480 passengers. The vessel had departed from Igoumenista, Greece and was heading to Ancona, Italy.

2014.12.28 - Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece Figure 01

According to Greek news media the fire started from  within the vessel’s lower decks (garage) and spread to the entire aft section of the vessel. As a result the Captain of the vessel ordered the evacuation of the ship. Currently the weather conditions in the area make the rescue operations difficult due to strong winds, rough seas (10 Beaufort scale).

2014.12.28 - Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece Figure 02

Approximate area wherethe incident occured.

Vessels that were in the adjacent area of the incident immediately altered their course in order to participate in the search and rescue operations. Currently, cargo ships that are participating in the rescue operations have formed a circle in an effort to provide a lee to Norman Atlantic and help in the rescue operations. Coast guard vessels, helicopters and tugs are also participating in the operation.

The search and rescue operations are being coordinated by the Italian authorities with the help of Greek authorities as well.

So far there haven’t been any reports of casualties or if any passengers were in the water.

Update No. 01 – 28/12/2014

According to a press release from Greek authorities participating in the rescue operation, 150 persons have evacuated the ship (through lifeboat or liferaft) and 42 of them have been rescued by the vessel “Spirit of Piraeus”. The cruise ship Europa has also managed to tow liferafts with people who managed to evacuate the ship.

2014.12.28 - Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece Figure 03

Photo that was released on the internet showing the vessel Norman Atlantic on fire (photo credits: http://www.paramythia-online.gr).

According to reports from passengers of the Norman Atlantic who managed to contact Greek news media, the passengers are gathered on the open deck of the ship facing the cold weather conditions and the thick smoke from the fire that is burning the ship. They also reported that the deck floor is hot from the fire.

The weather is expected to improve during the next hours (north winds of 6-7 Beaufort scale) and this will pose as a good opportunity to hasten the rescue operations and successfully evacuate crew and passengers.

Update No. 02 – 28/12/2014

One man, that was trapped in the slide of a marine evacuation system of the vessel, has been reported dead.

The rescue operations continue (although these depend on the weather conditions that prevail in the area), having rescue helicopters evacuating passengers, approximately two at a time. The passengers that are being rescued are transferred to the following locations:

  • Cargo ship “Aby Jeanette” that is located close to Norman Atlantic.
  • Cargo ship “Spirit of Piraeus”.
  • Cruise ship “Cruise Europa”
  • Letse in Italy.
  • Italian coast guard vessel on its way to Printezi.
2014.12.28 - Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece Figure 04

Photo of thr burning Norman Atlantic with vessels on standby close to the ship participating in the rescue operations.

2014.12.28 - Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece Figure 05

Liferaft from the vessel Norman Atlantic.

Update No. 03 – 29/12/2014

2014.12.28 - Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece Figure 06

Rescue operation on Norman Atlantic continued throughout the night amidst very harsh weather conditions. As of 29/12/2014 early morning hours 316 persons have been rescued while 160 are still remaining onboard Norman Atlantic.

2014.12.28 - Norman Atlantic in Fire North of Kerkyra, Greece Figure 07

Photo taken from an Italian rescue helicopter while evacuating passengers from the Norman Atlantic. Due to the ongoing fire within the ship’s internal decks the crew and the passengers of the vessel are located at the upper external decks of the vessel enduring cold and rain.

It is worth noting that due to the bad weather conditions towing operations of the Norman Atlantic were interupted.

Source: Reuters, Megatv (1), Megatv (2), CNN

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