World Bulletin / News Desk
The death toll in the Italian car ferry fire shipwreck in the Adriatic climbed to 10 Monday as Italian official sources confirmed that more than 40 people were believed missing from the vessel.
The latest figures released by the Italian Coast Guard said 10 people died after a fire broke out in the Norman Atlantic on Sunday and 407 people were rescued.
Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi congratulated Italian rescuers on averting a "hecatomb" and said everyone was rescued from the ferry.
However, the respected Greek online weekly To VIma reported that as many as 38 people were still missing from the ferry, forcing the Italian Transport Ministry officials to concede that as many as 43 people were still unaccounted for.
Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi admitted in a statement at a news conference that authorities were uncertain how many people who were evacuated from lifeboats had been tipped into the sea Sunday.
He said that while the ship was officially carrying 478 people, including 56 crew, some survivors picked up were not on the passenger list.
Italian officials earlier said one of the dead had been identified as a 62-year-old Greek, but the identities of the other dead were not immediately disclosed.
Renzi told a news conference that the only people left on the ferry were "the captain who, like all serious captains, is the last to abandon ship," along with four naval officers.
The Turkish survivor, who declined to be identified, earlier described seeing the bodies of four dead passengers lying slumped in a lifeboat launch alongside him.
After his arrival on a freighter which also brought to land 48 other survivors from the Norman Atlantic drama, the man told reporters: "I saw four dead people, with my own eyes, I am absolutely sure; they were in front of me."
He also told Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper: "On the launch we had four dead, I believe two men and two women."
"Unfortunately many people fell into the sea. I saw 10 people who were aboard a launch who then finished in the sea and I have no idea what happened to them."
The survivor had been traveling to Rome to spend New Year's Eve with friends when the blaze erupted.
He said the first he knew of the emergency was when "we heard people shout 'fire! fire!' and in five minutes the whole ship was on fire. It was dark and there was a lot of smoke."
"Many people fainted - we were trapped," he added.
Earlier on Monday, the Italian Navy had only confirmed the death of one person among the 478 passengers and crew on the ferry following the fire on the Italian-registered ferry which started Sunday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 13 Turkish citizens had been evacuated from the ferry while Lutfi Elvan, Turkey's transport minister, said Italian officials had told him an investigation had been launched into the cause of the fire.
Elvan added: "Helicopters rescued passengers throughout the night with winds of over 40 knots."
CHİLDREN AMONG PASSENGERS
Turkish sources said a crisis center had been established at the Turkish Embassy in Athens.
The owners or those leasing the five-year-old ferry could face charges of "culpable shipwreck" if it is found safety standards on board the vessel had been neglected.
A public prosecutor in Bari has opened an inquiry into the emergency.
Families with children were among the passengers on board, who were mostly lorry drivers, local radio stations reported.
Sixty-six survivors were being treated in hospitals in the Salento area of Apulia on Monday while four Italian rescue team members were being treated for smoke inhalation.
Some of the lifeboats aboard the ferry, which had set sail from the northern Greek port of Igoumenitsa for the Adriatic port of Ancona, were destroyed by the fire, according to Greek media reports.Last Mod: 30 Aralık 2014, 09:24