By Thanos Andrikopoulos
On December 28, 2014, the Norman Atlantic caught fire in the Strait of Otranto, the Adriatic Sea on a route Patras – Ancona. The fire broke out on the car deck shortly before 6:00 a.m., half an hour after leaving Igoumenitsa, Greece, at the time carrying 222 vehicles, 487 passengers and 12 crew members. The incident happened in the Greek waters near the island of Corfu. There were gale force winds and rain. At least 13 people lost their lives. On December 31st it was announced that on board there were 499 people, 487of which were passengers and 12 crewmembers. This figure does not include stowaways, probably aboard the ship. After the catastrophe there are still missing a total of 98 persons. A group of 49 managed to escape in a lifeboat, but others were prevented since two of the four lifeboats were destroyed by fire.
The Norman Atlantic was towed to the port of Brindisi, Italy, on January 2, 2015. There continued to burn in the port for almost two weeks until January 10, when the firemen were finally able to enter for inspection. Immediately the Italian authorities opened a criminal investigation of the fire. But the ship had been inspected in Patras, on December 19 and six serious deficiencies were found concerning emergencies. In recent days there came to light a testimony of a passenger, who had seen Afghan immigrants who had boarded the ship hidden in a truck, and had lit a fire in the garage of the ship to get warm, so the police feel that this might be a possible cause of the destruction.
The Norman Atlantic is a ferry owned by the Italian shipping company Visemar di Navigazione and by December 2014 belongs to the company ANEK Lines. The ship was built in 2009. Its length is 186 meters, width 25.6 meters and draft of 6.71 meters. It has two diesel engines MAN B & W 9L48 / 60B which give a top speed of 24 knots (44 km / h). It has accommodation for 850 passengers and 2,286 lane meters accommodation for vehicles.
On 29 August 2014 the Norman Atlantic made its last journey ….