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BREAKING NEWS: Eleven passengers are missing and two trapped after a fierce blaze engulfed a ferry sailing from Greece to Italy early on Friday. Firefighters were still battling to rescue people trapped on the ship, authorities said.
A total of 240 passengers and 51 crew were onboard the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia when the fire broke out. Rescue vessels had taken most of them to the island of Corfu where ambulances were waiting. The Greek fire brigade said two men trapped in the ship’s garage had since been rescued. Firefighters were trying to reach another three.
Grimaldi Lines, the owner of the vessel concede eleven passengers were missing. Aerial footage released by the coastguard showed rows of burnt trucks on the blackened deck after flames swept through the 183-meter (600-foot) ferry that had been making a nine-hour journey through the night.
‘The worst thing is the cars in the garage hold are glued next to each other, there is no escape route,’ one Greek truck driver, who did not give his name, said after arriving on Corfu.
The cause of the blaze was still being investigated, Greek authorities said. However, as the truth will have a cataclysmic effect on the green pursuit of electric vehicles and billions are invested in the pivot from diesel/petrol to electric batter vehicles there is understandable reluctance to slam the brakes on the ‘green vehicle’ gravy train.
At least 10 people had been taken to a Corfu hospital, most with breathing problems, a Greek health ministry official told state television, and there were no immediate reports of severe injuries.
Earlier on Friday, passengers huddled in yellow blankets on an Italian rescue vessel as huge plumes of smoke poured out of the ferry, one video showed. The word ‘MAYDAY’ was repeatedly blasting from the speakers, in the footage uploaded on the Greek news website Proto Thema.
The ferry sailed from Igoumenitsa, the largest port in western Greece, and was headed to the Italian port of Brindisi. It carried 153 vehicles, many of them trucks, Grimaldi Lines said. The fire broke out when the ship was near Corfu in the Ionian Sea. Hours after the alarm was raised, the vessel was still ablaze, drifting in Albanian waters, Grimaldi Lines said.
‘At around 3.30-4.00 a.m. I smelled smoke,’ Rumen Metodiev, a Bulgarian truck driver, told Bulgaria’s BNT channel. ‘The trucks and the documents, everything burned. There was no chance to put out the fire,’ he said. Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said 127 of its citizens were on board.
Grimaldi Lines spokesman Paul Kyprianou told Reuters that there were indications the fire started in one of its holds where vehicles including electric vehicles are stowed. The company was making every effort to help the passengers, most of them from Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, get home, he added.
‘The flames were incredibly high, we were a few miles away from the ferry when it happened,’ Colonello Felice Lodovico Simone Cicchetti from Italy’s financial police, who took part in the rescue operation, said. ‘The fire was so big and fast that in a matter of five minutes it became unmanageable for the people aboard.’
Pundit Ian Potter says, ‘It is so sad, caused by the batteries in Electric Vehicles catching fire.’
Ray Colbert writes, ‘It was only a matter of time, there had been a number of fires caused by spontaneous combustion caused by the vehicles electric batteries.
‘London fire brigade wants them banned from London after dealing with at least five or six cases of battery-related spontaneous combustion. The batteries are hard to deal with. They continue to re-generate heat, this could lead to the banning of electric vehicles being transported by ships, onto them being refused transit through the channel tunnel, and ferries.
It is a massive headache for the lobby pushing for the transition from petrol or diesel fuel to electric-powered vehicles. This could slam the door to holidays by electric vehicles to and from EU countries from Britain. Source, Source 2
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