Number of Norman Atlantic Victims Reaches 13, Survivors Tell Stories of Horror, Chaos
The number of victims of the fire on the Greek ferry Norman Atlantic has reached 13, but rescuers fear the figure might rise.
Among the victims are two Albanian sailors on a tugboat who died after being hit by a connecting cable between the vessels on Tuesday, Albanian officials say.
More than 400 passengers were rescued, but it is still unclear how many are missing, as Italian authorities established discrepancies between the official passenger list and the actual number of people on the torched ferry. It is suspected that the people not on the passenger manifest were illegal immigrants.
According to Bulgaria's Nova TV national channel, the Italian authorities were also investigating a possible arson with intention to kill.
Meanwhile, two of the seven Bulgarians on board the Norman Atlantic said that the crew was in panic and didn't know what to do when the fire broke out in the vehicle deck of the ship.
“I was in hell, now I am in heaven”, one of the first people rescued, Galin Haytov, told the bTV national channel from the hospital in the Italian city of Brindisi, where he expects surgery on his broken arm and collarbone. “I woke up to the sound of screams and blasts. It was dark, there was smoke and I realised there was a fire. The crew was telling me not to worry, while they were trying to put out the flames with a fire hose. But the soles of my shoes melted. I managed to get out and get on the open deck. I found my way to one of the life boats, but while I was waiting for the women to board it, someone pushed me and I fell and broke my arm and collarbone. It hurts, it's unpleasant, but I am alive. I may be in hospital, but at least I am not in the open sea, on a boat on fire. I am in heaven”
Radka Todorova, one of the last ones rescued from the ferry, told the Nova TV national channel she tried three times to climb up the stairs to the rescue helicopter and three times she was pushed aside by men.
"I was awaken by smoke and I saw fire," she said. "I ran and the fire was chasing me. Somehow I got to the upper deck, where I stood barefoot in the rain."
“Three times I tried to get to the helicopter rope and three times men pushed me aside,” she said. “They were so much more pushy than us, women.”
Todorova spent 27 hours on the burning ferry, when she finally managed to get to the rescue rope of the helicopter and board the San Giorgio amphibious boat of the Italian Navy, which safely arrived in the port of Brindisi on Tuesday evening.
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