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Greece: 'Difficult' search suspended on burning ferry as 10 remain missing

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, which is on fire for third day, in the Ionian Sea near the Greek island of Corfu, on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022.
Smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, which is on fire for third day, in the Ionian Sea near the Greek island of Corfu, on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

Rescuers have suspended a search for 10 people who remain missing after a ferry caught fire off the coast of the Greek island of Corfu.

The Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia has been burning for over five days. A total of 281 people of 292 people on board have already been rescued.

The search for survivors was suspended on Tuesday while the burnt-out 183-metre vessel was towed to Astakos -- a mainland port -- Greek authorities said.

"It was a very difficult operation" due to the heavy smoke and "considerable thermal pressure," a spokeswoman for the fire department told AFP.

Forty-two rescuers and two helicopters had been taking part in extinguishing the fire and searching for those who remain missing.

Most of the passengers were immediately rescued on Friday morning with one of them, a 21-year-old Belarusian driver, being rescued over the weekend.

But the body of a 58-year-old Greek driver was found on Sunday in a charred truck, marking the first confirmed death on the vessel.

So far, 279 registered passengers have been rescued, as well as two illegal Afghan migrants, raising fears that other people may have boarded without being counted.

Ten drivers are still missing: seven Bulgarians, two Greeks and a Turk, according to authorities.

The Euroferry Olympia caught fire at dawn on Friday two hours after leaving the Greek port of Igoumenitsa for Brindisi in Italy.

The Greek coast guard said the stricken ship should arrive on Wednesday and the relatives of the missing people would be taken to Astakos and given lodgings while the search continued.