On 18 February fire engulfed the Grimaldi Italian-flagged ferry Euroferry Olympia, which was sailing from Greece to Italy. Fire fighters battled to rescue people trapped on the ship, and eight passengers were missing.

A total of 240 passengers and 51 crew were onboard the when the fire broke out, and rescue vessels took most to the island of Corfu where ambulances were waiting.

Aerial footage released by the coastguard showed rows of burnt trucks on the blackened deck after flames swept through the 183m ferry which was undertaing a nine-hour journey through the night.

The cause of the blaze was still being investigated, Greek authorities said.

At least ten people had been taking to a Corfu hospital, most with breathing problems, a Greek health ministry official told state television, and there were no immediate reports of severe injuries.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim expressed concern over Euroferry Olympia. He said:

“I express my deep concern regarding the incident involving the fire onboard the ro-ro Euroferry Olympia, on 18 February, near the Island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea, while en route from Igoumenitsa, Greece, to Brindisi, Italy.

“I wholeheartedly appreciate the efforts of the search and rescue authorities of Greece, as well as near-by merchant ships, for the rescue of more than 275 people and the ongoing work to locate a number of missing people.

“I am saddened to learn of a confirmed fatality.  I convey my condolences to all who have been impacted by the loss. We are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves. I look forward to receiving the investigation report into this incident in due course.”

IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) is engaged in ongoing work to minimize the incidence and consequences of fires on ro-ro passenger ships.

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