Fatal 2014 Norman Atlantic ferry fire blamed on human error


A series of safety violations were to blame for a deadly fire on the Norman Atlantic ferry boat on December 28, 2014, which claimed at least 11 lives as it was headed from Greece to Italy, experts have concluded.

An Italian team of experts this week submitted a 650-page report to authorities in Italy on the findings from their investigation of the scorched ship and events that led to the death of 11 passengers and an undetermined number of stowaways.

The investigators found that the mistakes started at Patra port, the Italian-managed ship's first stop, and Igoumenitsa, its second, with trucks being haphazardly loaded onto the car deck and the refrigerated trucks being plugged into the ferry’s central circuit by a trainee rather than the ship’s chief electrician.

After the fire started on Car Deck 4, at least two members of the crew failed to take the first signs of smoke seriously, the experts found, and one engineer failed to notify the bridge after smoke entered the engine room.

The crew’s response after the fire spread is described as “chaotic.” It failed to direct panic-stricken passengers according to basic safety procedures or to make effective use of lifeboats and the escape chute.

“The entire emergency management system… shows obvious and inherent defects that also point to a high possibility of human error,” the report says.