Hellfire on the Sea for Survivors of Greek Ferry Disaster

CORFU - Survivors of a deadly ferry fire on a run from Greece to Italy - the second time it's happened in eight years - described the horror of the pre-dawn blaze on the ship as they waited to be rescued, fearing for their lives. Twelve people were reported missing and some of those who got out said it was a hellish scene on the sea off the island of Corfu, some worried about their livelihoods after losing trucks and cargo, said Reuters. "We saw death in front of us," Danilo Carlucci told the news agency at a hotel on the islands, where dozens of rescued passengers, including families with children and babies, were taken to shelter.

Many of the ship's passengers, including Carlucci, were truck owners or drivers transporting goods, from plastic cups to carpets, between Greece and Italy or other European countries, te report said. They were on a nine-h0ur voyage from Igoumenitsa, a port in Western Greece, to the Italian port of Brindisi, on a weekly routine, they said, with one truck owner Massimo Averna, saying he was asleep when crew members knocked on his door at 4 a.m. They shouted for passengers to abandon ship.

"We got dressed and immediately went over the bridge," Averna said, adding that when they reached the deck they had seen crew members trying to put out the fire. He said that it was the first time he had taken the ferry since buying a new, 200,000-euro (£226,328) truck to transport thermo pellets from Athens to Italy, video and other images later showing vehicles burned out on the ship. British passenger David Waller, 58, said he had left all his personal belongings behind as he rushed towards the lifeboats in the darkness.

"I didn't know what was happening, you were on a boat ... it was pitch black, so you didn't know where you were ... It was terrifying," Waller said. Sixteen-year-old Valentino Turlakov said it had been "a truly scary night that I'll never forget in my life," the report added.

Rescuers saved 280 people.

The missing were reported to be from Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Turkey.