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Greece halts search for 10 missing in ferry fire to tow ship

Greek efforts to locate 10 people missing for five days after an Italy-bound ferry caught fire at sea were suspended Tuesday while the burnt-out hulk was towed to a mainland port, Greek authorities said.

The Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia was carrying at least 292 passengers and crew when it caught fire Friday three hours after it left the northwestern Greek port of Igoumenitsa for Brindisi in Italy. A total of 278 people were safely evacuated at sea.

The ship was towed to a spot off the island of Corfu, and rescuers discovered the body of a Greek truck driver inside it on Sunday. Earlier, they extracted three survivors, including a young truck driver who managed to free himself and reach the deck after being trapped for more than two days.

On Tuesday, Greece’s fire service said “its operational capability for search and rescue (on the ship), in its present position, has been exhausted,” according to a coast guard statement. The fire service requested that the ship be taken to a safe harbor where rescuers can continue their operation.

The 183-meter (600 foot) vessel was being towed to the harbor of Astakos on the western mainland. The coast guard said the ship should be in port around midday Wednesday and the relatives of the missing people would be taken to Astakos and given lodgings while the search continued.