As the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia burned for a fourth day on Monday, 10 people, all thought to be lorry drivers, were still unaccounted for, while Special Disaster Unit (EMAK) rescuers were said to have gained more expanded access inside the 183-meter vessel after bringing the blaze under control.
The Euroferry Olympia caught fire on Friday after leaving the port of Igoumenitsa near Corfu en route to the Italian port of Brindisi. The fire broke out on a car deck.
Speaking to Kathimerini.gr, the spokesman of the Fire Service, Vassilis Vathrakogiannis, stated that the firefighters were in a race against time to find those who are missing. As he said, not all areas of the ship have been searched yet.
A total of 281 people were rescued, while the body of a Greek man was discovered inside the ship Sunday.
The Fire Service spokesperson noted that the thermal stress in some places remains very high. “The aim is to investigate all areas of the ship. There is a difficulty in the garages with the trucks, but members of the rescue teams are properly trained,” he noted.
Firefighters enter the ship in groups with special protective uniforms and equipment.
Kathimerini understands that due to the deterioration of weather conditions, the possibility of the ship being moored is being mulled at the request of the Fire Service, in order for the investigations to continue safely. The final decision lies with the Coast Guard.
Speaking to national broadcaster ERT, the coordinator of EMAK rescue team operations, Dimitris Kontogiannis, stressed that with temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius – reaching 300 in some places – the Euroferry Olympia is like a “pot floating while boiling in water.”
An inspection carried out at the port of Igoumenitsa on February 16 recorded deficiencies in cleanliness and hygiene conditions. The relevant inspection data are also included in the international maritime database Equasis.
In a statement, the Grimaldi Group claimed that the inspections of the Greek Port Authorities (including the smoke detection and firefighting systems) “ended with satisfactory results.”
In the same announcement, the shipowning company states that the ship was regularly cleaned and disinfected, as well as patrolled by crew members to ensure that the garages were evacuated by drivers after departure.