Four bodies found near burning ferry in Greece, 407 rescuedtext_fields
Athens: Four bodies were found Monday by rescuers in the waters off Corfu island near the Italian ferry Norman Atlantic which has been adrift since early Sunday after it caught fire, Greek Shipping Minister Militiadis Varvitsiotis said.
In statements made in parliament in Athens on the sidelines of a vote for the election of the next president of the Hellenic Republic, Varvitsiotis confirmed earlier media reports that the death toll in the incident had increased to five.
A Greek man died Sunday while attempting to escape from the ship which had departed from Patras in western Greece for Ancona in Italy.
At least 407 people have been rescued so far out of a total of 478 passengers and crew members who were on board the vessel, Xinhua reported citing the latest data released by the Greek Coast Guard.
Greek officials noted that it was not clear yet whether the four bodies located Monday by Italian forces belonged to people who were on board the Norman Atlantic or perhaps to undocumented migrants.
The rescue operation continues in adverse weather conditions.
In remarks to media after the crucial vote in parliament which ended inconclusively, opening the way for holding early general elections in January, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras expressed deep condolences to the families of the dead and hoped that the operation would end soon with no more casualties.
The rescue operation for those on board the Norman Atlantic was continuing in adverse weather conditions, Xinhua earlier cited Coast Guard spokesperson Nikos Lagadianos as telling the media.