Fire on Greek Ferry Leaves at Least 10 Dead, Dozens Injured

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A wounded passenger (C) among 49 survivors evacuated from the burning ferry "Norman Atlantic is helped by rescuers to disembark as he arrives in the harbor of Bari on board the ship "Siprit of Piraeus" on December 29, 2014.  Rescuers battled in the dark to save hundreds of passengers still trapped on a burning Italian ferry adrift off Albania in the early hours of December 29, as coastguards reported one man had died in the high-seas drama.
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

After battling rough seas, gale-force winds, and freezing temperatures, rescuers have finished evacuating the Greek ferry that caught fire early on Sunday morning en route to the Italian port of Ancona. The death toll is now at 10, and 427 people have been rescued in a difficult operation that involved helicopters, planes, coast guard vessels, and nearby merchant ships. The ship was carrying 478 passengers and crew members, and officials have yet to explain the discrepancy.

It’s also unclear what started the fire in the ferry’s car deck, which drove passengers to the vessel’s upper deck, where they spent several hours in driving rain and hail, waiting to be rescued. Dozens of survivors have been hospitalized with hypothermia. “It was like a scene from hell,” a Greek woman told TV networks. “There was a hailstorm, the ship was pounded by giant waves and there was fire everywhere. The deck was burning under our feet. It is a miracle that we survived.”

This post has been updated based on new developments.