Final ferry toll not known yet

Three Greeks were killed in the Norman Atlantic ferry disaster and another nine are missing, according to the latest figures provided by Greek authorities.

Greeks who were rescued from the ship after it was crippled by fire as it sailed between Greece and Italy continued to arrive back in the country on Thursday. A ferry carrying 23 Greek survivors docked at Patra a few hours after the New Year began, while a flight with another 10 Greeks touched down at Athens International Airport shortly before 2014 ended.

The fact that those rescued from the stricken Norman Atlantic were taken to different places has made the job of checking the names of survivors against the ferry’s manifest more complicated.

ANEK Lines, the Greek company which chartered the ferry, has revised the total number of passengers and crew it thinks were on board the ferry three times since Sunday, finally settling on a figure of 474.

The Greek coast guard said on Wednesday that the latest information from Italian authorities indicates that there are three Greeks among the 10 bodies recovered so far. The third Greek to be identified is Nikolaos Paraschis. The gale-force winds in the Adriatic are making it difficult for authorities to recover other bodies that have been spotted in the sea.

“Until now, there has been no news regarding 18 people, including nine Greeks,” said Greek coast guard spokesman Nikos Lagadianos. “We have some reservations about the exact number of survivors that we can announce as the information that has so far been supplied by Italian authorities contains some double entries and differentiations in the spelling of names.”

Bari prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe has ordered the Italian-owned vessel be towed to the southern port of Brindisi as soon as possible so that it can be inspected for corpses and for clues as to what caused the fire.

Volpe has said he expects to find more bodies on board, notably because he suspects there were more stowaways than the three who were rescued by the Italian coast guard on Monday.

There is also a possibility that passengers who were sleeping in their cabins or truck drivers who were in their vehicles when the fire erupted did not make it out alive. Several survivors have claimed that no alarm sounded when the fire broke out at around 4 a.m. on Sunday and that they only woke up due to the smell of smoke.