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Seven confirmed dead in passenger ferry fire horror

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Rescuers assist a passenger of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, that caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, in the harbor of Bari, southern Italy, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. A ferry carrying nearly 500 people caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, trapping passengers on the top decks as gale-force winds and choppy seas hampered the evacuation. Greek and Italian rescue helicopters and vessels struggled to reach the stricken ferry, with nearby merchant ships lining up to form a wall against the raging gusts. (AP Photo/Luigi Mistrulli)

Rescuers assist a passenger of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, that caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, in the harbor of Bari, southern Italy, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. A ferry carrying nearly 500 people caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, trapping passengers on the top decks as gale-force winds and choppy seas hampered the evacuation. Greek and Italian rescue helicopters and vessels struggled to reach the stricken ferry, with nearby merchant ships lining up to form a wall against the raging gusts. (AP Photo/Luigi Mistrulli)

Rescuers assist a passenger of the Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, that caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, in the harbor of Bari, southern Italy, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. A ferry carrying nearly 500 people caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu early Sunday, trapping passengers on the top decks as gale-force winds and choppy seas hampered the evacuation. Greek and Italian rescue helicopters and vessels struggled to reach the stricken ferry, with nearby merchant ships lining up to form a wall against the raging gusts. (AP Photo/Luigi Mistrulli)

Seven people are now confirmed to have died after a passenger ferry caught fire in the Adriatic.

The Italian coast guard said two more bodies have been recovered following a blaze on the Norman Atlantic, which was sailing from the western Greek port of Patras to Ancona in Italy.

Four bodies were discovered in the water around the ferry yesterday after a Greek man was found dead in a lifeboat chute.

All passengers have now been evacuated from the stricken vessel, authorities said, with 414 rescued.

Six Britons were among those aboard the ferry, which an inspection just 10 days ago found had serious deficiencies.

The vessel, operated by Greek shipping company Anek Lines, was found to have failings with fire safety and its plans for how to handle passengers in the event of an emergency. Among those saved were British showjumper Nick Channing- Williams, who was reunited with his Greek fiancee Regina Theoffili after they were rescued separately from the blazing vessel.

Mr Channing-Williams said he and other passengers tried to tie a tow rope from tug boats on to the front of the ferry but gave up after it repeatedly snapped.

He told Sky News there were moments when he was "absolutely terrified" and did not think he would live through it.

helicopters

Speaking after being reunited with Ms Theoffili, he said: "That was quite an emotional reunion because we were separated for a few hours, which was not very nice, and in the early hours of this morning I was starting to question whether we were going to get off it or not."

Rescue helicopters braved high winds and treacherous seas to pluck hundreds of passengers to safety. The blaze is believed to have broken out early yesterday morning on one of the ferry's car decks.

hnews@herald.ie


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