7 dead as passengers recount terror on blaze-hit ferry

In this video still from the Italian Marina Militare, a passenger is lifted onto a navy helicopter. Rescuers worked overnight and battled high seas and freezing temperatures to reach stranded passengers. Reuters/Marina Militare

At least seven people died after a car ferry caught fire in the Adriatic Sea, Greek and Italian officials said Monday, as survivors described a terrifying ordeal that could easily have been much more deadly…

…Wrapped in blankets and with many of them sporting bandages, 49 of the 478 passengers and crew who were on board the ferry when it caught fire shortly after dawn on Sunday disembarked from the merchant ship “Spirit of Pireus” at the Italian port of Bari.

They and other evacuees told how the fire triggered terror and panic which the crew appeared ill-prepared to deal with.

One of the first passengers off in Bari told reporters he had thought he was going to die as parts of the boat became engulfed by thick smoke as the ferry was travelling from Greece from Italy.

“We did not know what to do. The staff had no idea how to get people off the boat,” he said.

“The lifeboats did not work, there was only one of them in the water and none of the crew were there to help people”…