Efforts to extinguish the fire in the passenger ferry Eleftherios Venizelos are in full power at the port of Piraeus still at 3 o’ clock Wednesday afternoon. With water and foam firefighters try to get the fire under control. However, conditions are difficult due as the garage in fully loaded with vehicles.
When the ferry hatch was opened a few hours after all 870 passengers were evacuated, thick smoke came out of the parking component of the vessel.
The fire was reportedly revived burning trucks and private cars.
Within hours the ferry had leaned to the left side due to the volume of water poured in order to extinguish the blaze.
Fire fighters have opened holes above the ferry’s waterline to allow water flow out.
At the same time, two tug boats have been collecting the water coming out of the vessel to avoid sea pollution.
Efforts to extinguish the fire were hindered due to the parked vehicles. The ferry is loaded with 80 trucks and 157 private cars.
The chief of Fire Service Lieut. General Vassilis Mathaiopoulos who is overlooking the efforts at the spot told media that the operation is extremely difficult due to the narrowness of the area, the many parked vehicles and the strong smoke.
“Operation to fully extinguish the fire may take several hours,” he stressed.
The fire broke out in the 3rd garage short before Tuesday midnight and while the Elefterios Venizelos was sailing in open sea, two hours away from the port of Piraeus with destination the port of Chania on the island of Crete.
Immediately a huge operation was launched, with coast guards and other vessels to sail to the area, while the crew was distributing life jackets to the passengers and preparing the boats and rope ladders for an emergency evacuation at the sea.
When the automatic fire system seems to have extinguished the fire, the ferry returned to the port of Piraeus, accompanied by vessels of the coast guard, of the fire service and tug boats.
The Passengers were evacuated through a ladder of the Fire Service, in an operation that lasted more than three hours.
140 crew members were on board.
For more details, videos & pictures: Fire on Crete ferry with 1015 on board enforces emergency evacuation.
According to media, the fire broke out in a truck loaded with plastic items, but the information is not officially confirmed by Wed afternoon.
Four trucks were driven out of the ferry when the hatch opened.
Meanwhile, there seems to be a dispute in full development between the Maritime Ministry and the Port management that was acquired by Chinese Cosco when the port was privatized last year.
Cosco reportedly wants to have the ferry tugged outside the port as it is docked in the transit area where cruise ships anchor. The new management claims the dock was offered temporarily due to the exceptional and urgent circumstances last night.
In a statement the Piraeus Port Managment listed its immediate response services to the emergency situation when the ferry reached the port at 4 o’ clock in the morning. Among others it said it allowed docking near the Fire Service facilities, opened halls for transit passengers, made buses available for the transport of the evacuated passengers.
The management is closely monitoring the operation with regards to safety, the statement said.