Fire on Polish-built ferry with 288 people on board

A fire broke out on the ship carrying 288 people while sailing from the Greek port of Igoumenitsa in the Epirus-Macedonia West region on the Ionian Sea to Brindisi, Italy, Greek port police said on Friday.

The ship on which the fire occurred is sailing under the Italian flag. There were 237 passengers and 51 crew members on board.

No one was hurt, according to initial reports. However, the captain of the Euroferry Olympia asked passengers to abandon the ship. All were evacuated, according to some media reports.

However, as late as an early afternoon on Friday, some media outlets reported that the final number of missing was unknown, with two truck drivers still trapped onboard the ferry. 

AFP learned from eyewitnesses that three patrol boats and three coastguard tugboats were dispatched. At around 2 pm on Friday, a fire was still raging on the ship, and small explosions could be heard from its decks.

The accident took place off the northern coast of the Greek island of Corfu, between Greece and Albania. The cause of the fire is not yet known, and an investigation has been launched, the Greek coast guard reported. According to some sources, the extensive fire on the ship started with a truck fire on deck 3.

Judging by the photographs circulated in the media, it can be assumed that the fire was very extensive and may have caused serious damage or destruction, not only to the ship’s equipment but even its structure. Given its relatively advanced age, there is a strong possibility that the repair of the ferry will not be profitable, and the ship will be considered by the shipowner and insurers as a “constructive total loss” and will be scrapped.

Euroferry Olympia (IMO No. 9010175; GT 33 588; deadweight 11 682 t; overall length 183.08 m, breadth 28.70 m, draught 6.80 m, depth moulded 8.90 m; ro-ro lane 3380 m), is a Ro-Pax ferry with high ice class, built in 1995 at Gdańsk Shipyard SA (under the shipyard construction number B501/03) as Transeuropa for the Finnish shipowner Finnlines.

She was operated in Northern Europe for most of her life cycle, including the Baltic Sea. At the end of 2013, she was acquired, together with her owner, by the current owner, the Grimaldi Group, and transferred to the Mediterranean, where she was first refitted and then, in 2014, introduced on the Ravenna – Igoumenitsa – Patras line.


Photo: Ra Boe / Wikipedia / Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de; Hellenic Coast Guard 

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