Turkey, Turks rescued from ferry fire

Search continues for Turk missing in ferry fire

26 Turkish citizens rescued alive from the Italian ferry fire returned yesterday to Turkey, and have spoken of their dramatic experience.

26 Turkish citizens rescued after the fire of the Italian ferry off the coast of Greece – 23 of them truckers en route to Italy – arrived in Turkey on Sunday, Turkish Anatolia news agency reported yesterday. However, the search for a Turkish citizen who disappeared in the fire continues.

According to a diplomat from the consulate general of the Republic of Turkey in Athens, a total of 26 Turkish citizens were rescued alive from the ferry and temporarily housed in hotels on the Greek island of Corfu, before finally being transferred to Istanbul; to do this, some of those rescued had to receive temporary passports because their documentation was lost during the fire. Some of the passengers had to receive medical treatment, he added.

A total of 288 passengers were aboard the ferry that suffered a horrific fire on Friday while en route between Turkey and Italy. Although no fatalities have been reported, one Turkish citizen remains missing. “We are in contact with the Greek coast guard, hospitals and the Greek police to determine what has happened to him. I hope he is well,” Mustafa Somuncu, the Turkish general consul in the Greek capital, said on Saturday.

The victims, grateful and still in shock

Fahri Özgen, one of the rescued, told the Anatolia agency about his experience, thanking the Turkish government and the Turkish diplomatic representation in Greece for their efforts. “They didn’t leave us alone,” he assured, giving thanks. “The ferry is still burning. We have a missing person, and we still don’t know anything. We remain in shock,” he explained.

Uğur Rüşvenli, another of the Turks who was on the ferry, also thanked the Turkish authorities for their help and said that what happened “cannot be explained in words.” “We are still trying to recover. Our vehicles, our money… everything has been burned,” said another of those rescued, identified as Hakan Ulusoy.

“We are moved by the efforts of our government to save us,” said another of the Turks who was able to escape the Italian ferry fire. “We thank our country, our consuls general in Athens and Komotini, for their efforts. One of our friends did not even have socks to put on, and our Consul General took a pair from his bag and gave them to him. That’s how much they took care of us,” he said.