Italian and Greek helicopter crews work into the night to airlift passengers off a burning ferry adrift in the Adriatic Sea, battling bad weather and darkness. Sarah Toms reports.
Passengers on board the Italian ferry, Norman Atlantic, waited for more than 12 hours to be rescued, as a fire swept through the lower deck in the early hours of Sunday morning. Terrified, the 478 people on board were forced to move higher and higher to escape the flames. Italian and Greek helicopter teams have been pushed back by gale force winds. Officials said most of the passengers on the ferry travelling from Patras in Greece to Ancona in Italy were Greek but they also came from several other countries including Germany, Italy and France. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK SHIPPING MINISTER, MILTIADIS VARVITSIOTIS, SAYING: "So far, the good news is that 165 passengers have been rescued and are now safe. However, the bad news is that we must announce that there is one dead man, a Greek national, who had been trapped inside the rescue shoot, the evacuation staircase." As darkness fell, helicopters began the painstaking and dangerous task of lifting people in small groups of twos or threes off the Norman Atlantic and transferring them to a nearby vessel....watched by hundreds of their fellow passengers, waiting for their own rescue and answers about why this European ferry was set alight.