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Heat and Smoke Delay Search of Burning Greek Ferry

Searchers are trying to reach vehicle deck on the ferry, on which at least 11 people lost their lives, and hope more bodies are not found.
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For a second day, fierce heat from a slow-burning blaze kept firefighters and other investigators on Saturday from searching the hold and vehicle decks of a Greek ferry for more bodies.

At least 11 people perished in the pre-dawn blaze on Dec. 28 aboard the Norman Atlantic, on a voyage between Greece and Italy. Authorities fear more bodies might be inside the vehicle deck where the fire began. The ferry was towed into the Italian port of Brindisi on Friday morning. Port Capt. Mario Valente said Saturday that temperatures were "very high" inside the deck. Smoke still poured from the wreck.

In early evening, Bari Prosecutor Ettore Cardinali told journalists that no bodies were found during a search of some of the passenger cabins and some deck areas. "There is still the danger of fire," Cardinali said. "Therefore, we still enter very carefully, little by little. It is still an initial search."

As for accessing the vehicle deck, Brindisi Port Authority president Hercules Haralambides said it wasn't known when the garage area can be searched. "We can only hope that we are not confronted with a real tragedy" of more bodies, he said. Greece on Friday indicated as many as 19 people are still unaccounted for, while the Italian prosecutor leading the investigation of the fire said a few days earlier the figure could be even higher.


— The Associated Press