Georgian priest dies helping others at Norman Atlantic

2 Jan 2015 - 19:48

  • Rescue teams worked through the night to take people off the ferry. Photo by Reuters., 2 Jan 2015 - 19:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian priest Ilia Kartozia drowned helping other passengers of Italian ferry Norman Atlantic as Georgian survivor of the tragedy says.

25 years old Irakli who was travelling with the nine years old son, wife and two other members of his family told Italian newspaper La Republicca that the Georgian superior of the monastery died while he let woman with the child take his place on the rescue boat.

"Later, when his turn has come to move to the boat, the rope had broken and he had fallen into the sea. Someone threw him a rescue jacket, but the waves were too high and he did not manage to take it. We hoped that he would be rescued by another rescue ship, but unfortunately he was not,” said Irakli in his interview to the newspaper.

"When the fire started I took my son to the shoulders and ran. Father was reassuring and encouraging me all the time. He helped me also showing the right way to go,” said the Georgian survivor of the ferry fire.

Priest Ilia Kartozia left for Italy to make a pilgrimage the church of the St. Nicolas in the city of Bari, Italy together with eight Georgians from his flock as the Georgian Public Broadcaster reported.

According to the Georgian Ambassador to Italy and San Marino Kakha Sikharulidze it is impossible to transfer the body of Ilia Kartozia to the homeland until the investigation will finish all procedures.

In total, nine Georgian citizens were aboard the burning ship, including one pregnant woman and one child. All of them fell well and now are at the city of Bari, Italy.

The Italian-flagged Normand Atlantic was caught on fire and started to list on side on December 29 early in the morning.

The ferry company operating the journey from the Greek city of Patras to Ancona in Italy said a total of 478 people had been on the ship when it left.

It is not clear what caused the tragedy, which killed at least 11 people. Up to 19 are said to still be missing.

It took international rescuers more than two days to extract 477 survivors from the burning ferry, mostly by helicopter.

Rescue workers are to resume a search on the Norman Atlantic ferry, nearly a week after it caught fire while sailing from Greece to Italy.