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Fire emergency in Greece on Anek’s ferry΄El Venizelos’ – ΄ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΣ ΒΕΝΙΖΕΛΟΣ΄: ΜΙΑ ΑΚΟΜΗ ΠΥΡΚΑΓΙΑ ΞΕΣΠΑΣΕ ΣΕ ΟΧΗΜΑΤΑΓΩΓΟ ΠΛΟΙΟ ΤΩΝ ΑΝΕΚ LINES

In the night between August the 28th and the 29th 2018 the ship Eleftherios Venizelos, another ferry from Anek Lines, during its travel from Piraeus to Crete with 875 passengers and 141 crew on board, was hit by a serious fire in the garage area, so much that the Captain was forced to declare general emergency and abandonment of the ship.

The emergency operations were not easy and implied the intervent of two firefighting tug boats, ten tenders, 48 firefighters and two emergency teams, as the fire was very quickly expanding from the lower decks and heavy black smoke was inclosing the ship.

The dynamic of the new accident is similar to the disaster of the Norman Atlantic, which as this one, was operating under the flag of the Greek company ANEK: a vehicle parked on board caught fire so that from 12am the board started to send emergency signals to get help from the Coast Guard.

After we assisted dozens of passengers who suffered a devastating experience onboard of the Anek’s ferry Norman Atlantic in the nights of the 28/29 December 2014 where so many lost their life, an all others suffered for their personal safety and for the losses of their personal belongings and for which we already submitted to the Civil Court of Bari our law suit against Anek and Visemar (see our web page on such case: https://giustiziapernormanatlantic.wordpress.com/), we face another case with a fire that broke out in the car deck of a ferry.

The emergency operations on the Eleftherios Venizelos went on during all night and the ship was at the end escorted back into Piraeus and all the passengers were disambarked only during the morning of the 29 August.

Media sources report that the ship has had many problems operating so much that since 2014 it has a discontinuous use, with some short-term rentals (including one to the Greek government for the transportation of migrants from the islands) and sporadic income in service as a replace of other ships Anek stopped for repairs. This raises questions in relation to safety of the ship. These questions will be adressed by with a specific complaint we will file to authorities that have already opened an investigation to find out the causes of the fire and the reasons for the lack of containment of the flames in the garage by the drenching system, providing all the trial expert’s reports on Norman Atlantic about critical issues on fires in Ro/Ro ship’s garage open decks. Continua a leggere

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The investigation phase has been closed; Norman Atlantic approaches the criminal trial

norman atlantic chiuse indagini preliminari processo penale
A big step towards the criminal trial that will bring finally light and justice to the Norman Atlantic marittime disaster; great satisfaction from our legal team, not only because we are approaching the trial, but also because the Public Prosecutor has clearly listened to the complaints of our clients, adding to the accused list all the crew members who did not provide the necessary assistance to passengers. There was no loading plan for the heavy trucks, and the fire started to develop from one of the refrigerated trucks, because there were not enough power outlets and the truck drivers kept their engines running to cool the goods. A hypothesis that had already made its way in the days following the fire, as a malpractice prohibited by navigation regulations. And there were other and numerous negligence, both in the risk assessment and during the evacuation, with extreme disorganization and several crew members who left the ship way before the passengers were safe. Now the Bari prosecutor, after 3 years close investigations, adding all the crew members to the accused, mainly for our multiple reports of severe complaints from our clients for abandonment of the ship; 30 people and two companies, Visemar and Anek Lines, now face the criminale trial for the shipwreck of the Norman Atlantic ferry, which took place off the Albanian coast on the night of December 28 2014 after a fire broke out on board that cost the lives of 31 people, including some Syrian migrants, even minors, and the wounding of others 64.

All the subjects under investigation are liable for involuntary cooperation in shipwreck, culpable homicide and multiple culpable injuries. Numerous violations on security and the navigation code are also contested. To the original 18 people already in the file of the p.p’s office of Bari, Ettore Cardinali and Federico Perrone Capano, they added others 12: they are the legal representative of Visemar, society owner of the ferry, Carlo Visentini, the two legal representatives of the Greek Anek Lines, charterer of the Norman Atlantic, in addition to the commander Argilio Giacomazzi and 26 crew members. 6 of them also contend that they had left the ship avoiding to help passengers way before they were safe. A series of negligences emerged in the expert’s report of the Port Authority of Bari, above all on the assessment of the risks and on the organization of the operations of evacuation of the ship, which would have caused the shipwreck and the death of some passengers. About the causes of the shipwreck we already ran trough a probationary incident phase that lasted about two years with numerous accesses aboard the wreck, moored since February 2015 in the port of Bari, and still subjected to seizure.

The experts report about a ineffective firefighting system and unprepared crew. The fire supposedly started from a refrigerated truck running a diesel engine during navigation. Furthermore, according to the accusatory hypothesis, a plan to load the 128 TIR on board (of which about 60 refrigerators) was missing, arranged on the bridges in an approximate manner, without respecting the distance between the vehicles and the availability of elettric power, forcing hauliers to keep the engines running. And both the captain and carrier companies were full aware of this malpractice. We are also waiting to call accusation about the reason why the captain and the shipping companies have decided to prevent the intervention of the Albanian tugs to wait the arrival from Bari of the rescue, forcing the passengers to fear for their life two day on a ship adrift in flames and in the stormy sea.

In the next few weeks we will update all our clients with more detail on the following steps, about the civil case running in Bari, relations between civil and criminal proceedings, and strategies of our team in order to bring justice and compensation to all.

Pre-Trial probative hearing for #NormanAtlantic

IMG_7327After a long wait, the Public Prosecutors of Bari have finally filed the request for the probative hearing, in order to proceed through the Judge experts, to access the ship and examine, jointly with the other parties, to all the data equipment, and investigation results, carried out so far. The experts will be ask to ensure the nature of the malfunction of the fire alarm system, and all supply systems of the motorship Norman Atlantic, the observance of the regulations on ship safety, loading and securing of vehicles, the effective closing of the garage, identification of the causes of the fire, and its propagation, the correctness of the emergency procedures, evacuation and timing of the alarms, in addition to the reliefs of all technical data, in function to the next processual phase of the case .

The GIP (investigating Judge) of Bari, Dr. Alessandra Piliego, has stated the first pre-trial hearing to May 22- 2015, in order to formulate the investigation requests and to formally give the assignment to a college of experts already appointed. We already know the names of some of this experts, or auxiliaries, for being consultants or experts in the Concordia case.

The long list of injured parties in the hearing decree document, is only partial because it is not updated with all further complaints for several other passengers, only recently filed – in many parties of Italy – close to the expiry period of three months after the fact, and apparently not yet formally dispatched to the attention of Bari court offices. This will not be a difficulty as, out of the fact that only some of the passengers apparently proposed a complaint, the GIP ordered the notification of the decree about the probative hearing with public announce, disposing the publication of the document on institutional sites and its transmission to news agency.

norman-atlantic-sportellone[1]We looked forward to start the judicial proceeding operations, that incredibly seemed destined to remain suspended for a long time more. The situation, we must critically comment, seems to have been resolved only with the media pressure most recently placed by the cruise companies Costa Crociere and MSC, complaining about the occupation of the cruise dock in the port of Bari by the wreck Norman Atlantic, from the gruesome and not very reassuring appearance, containing a lot of heavy trucks still loaded of food in an advanced state of decomposition: so, for them, the Norman Atlantic is an inconvenient and stinks wreck.

They seem to forget, however, that this wreck still holds, allegedly, other passenger’s corpse who have not been found or that were not even recorded in boarding list, and that for more than 120 days, many missing’s relatives are anxious to recover and bring home the bodies of their family members, or at least to know if one of the corpses already found on board or at sea in recent months belongs to their relative.

On Monday we will present a formal request to the Prosecutor of Bari in order to proceed, without further delay, to the sample collection for recognition of DNA on family members of some of the missing, and that firstly ask, indeed legitimately require, to know.

After the expert’s operations will also be possible to proceed to a possible restitution, in favor of claimants, of the recoverable vehicles and personal property, if not destroyed in the fire of 28/12/2014.

Our lawyers Massimiliano Gabrielli, Cesare Bulgheroni and Alessandra Guarini will take part at the hearing on May 22, primarily to monitor and protect the interests of the injured parties, but also to assert immediately passenger’s rights, which are still waiting a real offer from the companies.

As for today, Anek Lines and Visemar have not made any kind of concrete offer, avoiding a diligent behavior but mostly, providing an initial and adequate sum for compensation, due, in relation to the victims’ families, some of which, as in the case of truck drivers, have left wives and children without any form of maintenance .

WE ENCLOSE THE FULL DECREE ORDER THAT STATE THE PROBATIVE HEARING