Britons ‘rescued from blaze ferry’

Published: Monday 29th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A number of Britons are understood to be among scores of people rescued from a stricken Italy-bound ferry.

More than 100 people have been rescued from the Norman Atlantic after a blaze broke out and the rescue operation is expected to continue overnight.

The Italian Navy said last night that 190 people had been plucked from the ship.

One person has died and 287 were still waiting to be brought to safety.

It is understood there were two people on the ferry who had travelled on British passports, and there may be another four Britons who have dual citizenship but were travelling on different passports.

“A number of British nationals were on board. We believe some have now been rescued, but the rescue operation is ongoing,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

The Government is in close contact with Italian and Greek authorities and is doing everything it can to ascertain the whereabouts of all affected British nationals, she said.

One of the Britons – Nick Channing-Williams, 37, who is based in Greece – had been standing on the top deck of the ferry in pouring rain since this morning.

His sister told the Press Association that Mr Channing-Williams and his 33-year-old Greek fiancee Regina Theoffili had been airlifted to safety.

Mr Channing-Williams’ mother Dotty, from Berkshire, managed to speak to him by telephone earlier today.

“He was really good, but then he would be. He wouldn’t want to worry me,” she said.

“I told him it’s just so difficult because there’s no information.

“And he said, ‘It’s far more difficult here, because we’ve been on the top deck in the freezing cold and rain and thunder and lightning!'”

Susan Daltas said her daughter Mia and two granddaughters had been rescued.

“I’ve heard recently from Marcus, our son-in-law, who kept the phone, that they’ve been airlifted to safety – the two little girls and Mia. But he’s still on the ferry, as far as we understand,” Mrs Daltas told the BBC this evening.

“They sent the two girls quite a long time before Mia, which worried us a little because they’re too young to be without their mother, especially after all that worry and fright. They must be terrified.”

She said her youngest granddaughter had been taken to a mainland hospital.

“She was suffering from hypothermia because they didn’t even manage to get a coat out of the cabin before they had to go on deck. But apparently she’s now sleeping,” she said.

Of her son-in-law, Mrs Daltas said: “He was shaken, obviously, but I think he’d been staying strong for the family, and the minute they were safe he went a bit wobbly. It’s just cold, and he said his mobile was soaking wet because they had to keep moving around the boat to get away from the fire. So it’s obviously not pleasant.”

Published: Monday 29th December 2014 by The News Editor

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