In the early morning hours of December 28, 2014, Italian flagged Roll-on/Roll-off passenger ferry NORMAN ATLANTIC, owned by Visemar di Navigazione Srl, caught fire during her passage from Patras to Ancona with 411 passengers, 55 crew members, potentially a yet unknown number of blind passengers and 222 vehicles on board.
At that time she was sailing approximately 44 miles northwest off the coast of Corfu. Very heavy winds hamper the rescue operation by sea so that airlift rescue by helicopters was added, while other passengers were transferred to other nearby cargo vessels.
The international rescue measures are completed under co-ordination of the Italian Coast Guard, who already performed with outstanding efficiency during the evacuation of the Costa Concordia, merely 3 years ago.
The progress of the rescue squad was being monitored very closely by the international media while first discussions on possible lacks of the safety of the vessel spread the internet. As 18 German Citizens are amongst the passengers, the Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation, based in Hamburg, amongst other authorities will commence investigations into the cause of the incident.
Family members who are still in doubt about the safety of their relatives, may contact their respective embassies, the local police and/or the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance.
Civil rights of the passengers are well protected by the Athens Convention 2002 and even further by the EU Passenger Liability Convention 392/2009. Mandatory insurance for the performing carrier, an advance payment in case of personal injuries or death within 15 days and an up-lift of limitation limits up to 250 000 SDR per person and passage, unless force majeure can be proven by the carrier are provided for. In exceptional cases of Gross Negligence the compensation per capita shall not be higher than 400 000 SDR. Loss and damage to vehicles ( up to 12 700 SDR) and luggage ( up 3 375 SDR) can also be claimed. 1 SDR (Special Drawing Right) is equivalent to approximately EUR 1,18.
The case may furthermore invoke criminal liability of the management of the vessel. As for the 18 German Citizens inter alia their local police authorities and the prosecution in Hamburg for offences committed at sea are the competent bodies to approach and file criminal charges.
Click here to see previous news and updates about NORMAN ATLANTIC