Turkish nationals trapped onboard and later rescued from an Italian-flagged ferry have been brought home with one still missing, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported Sunday.
Erdem Kutlu, a diplomat from the Turkish Consulate General in Athens, said 26 Turkish citizens, including 23 truck drivers, were rescued from the ferry and placed in hotels on the island of Corfu.
Some of the passengers received medical treatment.
A total of 288 passengers were trapped on board the ferry that caught fire Friday en route to Italy. No casualties have been reported other than the missing Turkish national as efforts to find and rescue them are underway.
"We are in contact with the Greek coast guard, the hospital and the Greek police to determine his fate. I hope he is well," said Mustafa Somuncu, Turkey's consul general in Athens, on Saturday.
Temporary passports were issued to the rescued Turkish nationals whose passports went missing during the incident, and they were taken to Istanbul.
Fahri Özgen, one of the Turkish citizens rescued from the burning ferry, told AA the ordeal they went through.
Thanking President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Somuncu and Murat Ömeroğlu, the Turkish consul general in Komotini (Gümülcine), for their efforts, Özgen said that the trapped nationals experienced difficulties in the first few hours after the fire broke out but help came soon after.
“They did not leave us alone there,” he said.
“The ferry is still on fire. We have a missing friend, and we still haven’t got any news on the situation. We are still in shock,” he said.
Another Turkish national, Uğur Rüşvenli also said that the disaster “cannot be explained with words” and thanked Turkish officials for their help.
Hakan Ulusoy, another Turkish national rescued from the ferry, also thanked Turkish authorities.
“We are still trying to recover. Our vehicles and money, everything has burned,” he said.
Hayrullah Çetin, another rescued Turk, also thanked Turkish officials for their support.
“We were moved by our state’s efforts to save us. We thank our country, our consuls general in Athens in Komotini for their efforts. One of our friends did not have any socks to wear 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.
“Our state did not let us suffer, we thank our officials.”
In an earlier statement, the Greek coast guard said 237 passengers and 51 crew members were on board. No casualties have been reported and police said three tug boats and three patrol boats were sent to help passengers.
The incident took place around 4:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. GMT) off the northern coast of Corfu, between Greece and Albania, an official from the Greek coast guard's press office told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The cause of the fire is not yet known and an investigation has begun, the agency said.