DECEMBER 29, 2014 — News agency ANSA reports Italian Premier Matteo Renzi as saying that the death toll in the Norman Atlantic ferry disaster has risen to five. Subsequently, the Italian Coast Guard said two more bodies had been found aboard the ship, bringing the total to seven.
A fire broke out on a car deck before dawn Sunday as the Italian-flagged RoPax, owned by Vizemar di Navigazione, headed for Ancona, Italy, from Patras, Greece.
Rescued passengers gave harrowing accounts of hundreds of containers filled with oil catching fire, floors starting to collapse from the heat and shoe soles melting as they sought safety on the upper deck where they awaited rescue in gale force winds.
This morning Premier Renzo told a news conference in Rome that 407 people had been rescued and that everyone had been moved off the ferry except the captain and four Navy officials.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in Bari have opened an investigation into the fire and questions are being raised about the most recent port state control inspection of the vessel on December 19 in Patras, Greece. Though the vessel was not detained, six deficiencies were recorded. The Paris MOU on line data base shows that these included a fire safety deficiency relating to malfunctioning fire doors/openings in fire-resisting divisions; problems with closing devices and watertight doors; missing emergency system items; and two separate deficiencies relating to life saving appliances.