Second Body Found After Euroferry Olympia is Brought to Port
The Hellenic Fire Service reported late today that they located the body of a second person aboard the burnout out Euroferry Olympia. The discovery was made after the ferry arrived at the port and the search of the vessel was intensified.
The reports indicate that a body of a so far identified man was found in the lower garage on the second deck of the vessel. The fire department said the man was found next to and not in a vehicle. They believe he died from suffocation and high temperatures, not by fire. Additional details are pending the identification of the body and the notification of the families of the missing. The Greek Shipping Ministry arranged for the families to be transferred from Corfu to be near the port of Astakos in southwest Greece while the vessel was also being towed to the port.
The hulk arrived in the port earlier in the day with at least three tugboats maneuvering it into and backing the vessel into the dock. Pictures appear to show that the fire has largely been extinguished although reports indicate there are still hot spots aboard the vessel.
Once the ferry was secured the search resumed including entering areas of the vessel that had previously been inaccessible. On Monday, the fire service told the Ministry of Shipping that they had completed as much searching as possible while the vessel was still at sea. They recommended towing the ship to port in part due to concerns for deteriorating weather at sea. The search had also been suspended on Monday evening when the fire reached the paint locker and other stores causing explosions and a flare-up of the fire in the forward areas of the ship.
After docking the Euroferry Olympia, the plan was to begin ventilating the ship and to open the car doors. Reports indicate that the cars were parked close together making it difficult to access them and search. The plan was to begin removing the burnt-out cars so that they could complete the search.
Grimaldi Group which operated the ferry sailing between Greece and Italy issued a statement on Sunday saying that it was against international regulations for anyone to be on the car deck or in their vehicles while the vessel was at sea. They said that crew was assigned to check the decks before departure and that they also monitored the decks while the vessel was at sea.
Both of the bodies that have been recovered from the vessel reportedly were found on the car decks. In addition, on Friday hours after evacuating the ship, rescue services helped guide to safety two drivers who said they were trapped on the lower decks. In addition, another person made his way to deck on Sunday and was removed from the ship in good condition. A driver from Belarus told the authorities and repeated in media interviews that he had been trapped on the lower decks and waited out the fire before finding an escape route when the heat and smoke had receded from the area he was in.
Nine people are listed as still missing after the fire and evacuation. The process has been complicated by reports that several people who were not on the manifest were found among the survivors. It is believed they went aboard the ship illegally in Greece.
Earlier Greek authorities reportedly detained the captain and two engineers from the Euroferry Olympia. The media says that they were later released while the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.