Monday, 29 December 2014

Norman Atlantic ferry fire: Four UK passengers rescued............

Four Britons have now been rescued from a ferry which caught fire near Greece on Sunday, the Foreign Office has said.
A British family of four and an engaged couple were on the Norman Atlantic, which was travelling from Greece to Italy, when fire broke out.
Dottie Channing-Williams, from Berkshire, said her son Nick, 37, had been taken off and was now on land.
And Susan Daltas said her daughter and two grandchildren had been rescued but that her son-in-law remained on board.
The family of Nick Channing-Williams, who is a showjumper, said they were "extremely relieved" to hear of his rescue.
The Italian car ferry was travelling from Patras, in Greece, to Ancona, in Italy with 422 passengers and 56 crew members on board when a fire broke out on its car deck, north-west of Corfu.
Five people are now confirmed to have died, according to the Greek coastguard. Their nationalities have not yet been confirmed.
The Italian navy said 363 of the 478 people on board had been evacuated by early Monday.
Ferry fireImages of the fire have been released by Italian coastguards
Nick Channing-WilliamsSoot-covered Nick Channing-Williams is pictured, after his rescue, with Italian Air Force Captain Paolo Papi
The Norman Atlantic The Italian Navy released this image of the stricken Norman Atlantic
Mrs Daltas, who lives in Corfu, said four members of her family had been on the stricken boat. She told BBC Breakfast she believed that women and children had been taken off first.
Her son-in-law, Marcus, spoke to Mrs Daltas from the ferry on Sunday evening after her daughter, Mia, and her two granddaughters had been airlifted to safety.
Her youngest granddaughter had been taken to hospital in the city of Brindisi, in southern Italy, Mrs Dalta said.
"She was suffering from hypothermia because they didn't even manage to get a coat out of the cabin before they had to go on deck," she said.
The girl's mother and sister were on one of the rescue boats, said Mrs Daltas.
Her son-in-law was not able to tell her much about conditions on board, other than to say it was "cold and wet" and that he wanted to be reunited with his family.
Undated family handout photo of Briton Nick Channing-Williams with his fiancee Regina TheoffiliNick Channing-Williams was on the ferry with his fiancee Regina Theoffili
Passengers rescued from the Norman AtlanticRescue teams worked through the night to take people off the ferry
The Spirit of Piraeus Many ferry passengers were taken on board the Spirit of Piraeus container ship
Mr Channing-Williams, who lives in Greece, is a competitive show jumper and trains young riders.
He was on the boat with his 33-year-old Greek fiancee Regina Theoffili, who has now been rescued and taken to hospital.
His mother said: "We are, of course, pleased that Regina is off (the boat), but we can't get any information. We have been up the whole night trying to phone people and trying to find out exactly what is happening.
"I had told people they had both been airlifted and were fine and now that's not the case.
"A lot of what we're hearing is hearsay, we don't really know. I'm hopeful the wait for good news won't be too much longer."
Thunder and lightning
Mrs Channing-Williams told BBC Breakfast the wait was "just a rollercoaster, up and down".
"I just hope and pray they all get off soon because it's very difficult for families," she said. "My daughters have been up all night with me just trying to find out a bit of news."
Mrs Channing-Williams said her son had been intending to spend New Year's Eve with her later this week and added: "I just hope they're both going to be okay and we can put this behind us."
She said she spoke to her son on Sunday morning.
"I told him it's just so difficult because there's no information. And he said, 'it's far more difficult here, because we've been on the top deck in the freezing cold and rain and thunder and lightning.'"
British Ambassador to Greece John Kittmer said the embassy was in "close contact" with the Greek authorities and was urgently seeking more information".
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "From the passenger manifest, and other information available to us, we know that a number of British nationals were on board the Norman Atlantic.
"Local authorities have confirmed to us that four British nationals have been rescued so far.
"The rescue operation is ongoing and we remain in close touch with the Italian authorities."