Rough Seas, Strong Winds Hampering Rescue Efforts for Stranded Ferry in Adriatic Sea

Hundreds of passengers remain stranded aboard a burning ferry currently adrift between Italy and Alabania and strong winds and large waves are hindering rescue efforts, Associated Press the reports. At least one person has died and two others were injured.

The Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic caught fire shortly before dawn local time, and the fire was extinguished by 8:30 p.m. according to the AP. The ship, which had 422 passengers on board and 56 crew members, was traveling from Patras, Greece to Ancona, Italy.

Both Italian and Greek rescue crews were on hand to help with the evacuation and rescue efforts will continue through the night, the AP said. The Italian Military now reports that 190 people have been rescued with 287 still on the ferry.

"Ships could not approach us because of the rain and winds," Vassiliki Tavrizelou, a passenger who was rescued, told the AP in a telephone interview from Lecce. "We were at least four hours on the deck, in the cold and rain."

The winds are coming on the heels of a storm that brought rain and snow to parts of Europe, including Italy according to Meteorologist Dave Samuhel.

A locally strong wind, known as a ‘Bora wind', was coming out of the Dinaric Alps and blowing across the sea in a northeast direction, Samhuel said.

Wind gusts over 60 mph were observed and it will likely remain very windy over the next two days, Samuhel said.