Italian ferry fire: Albanian tug tows stricken vessel to port

A photo grab taken from a video made available by the Aeronautica Militare Italiana on December 28, 2014, shows the burning ferry Norman Atlantic adrift off Albania. -- PHOTO: PHOTO / HO/ AERONAUTICA MILITARE ITALIANA
A photo grab taken from a video made available by the Aeronautica Militare Italiana on December 28, 2014, shows the burning ferry Norman Atlantic adrift off Albania. -- PHOTO: PHOTO / HO/ AERONAUTICA MILITARE ITALIANA

VLORE, Albania (Reuters) - An Albanian tugboat was preparing to fix a line and tow the stricken car ferry that caught fire off the coast of Greece earlier on Sunday, an official in the port of Vlore said on Sunday.

Luan Kore, the chief of tugboats at the Albanian port said a tug from Vlore was preparing to tow the Norman Atlantic to Albania's main port of Durres, where it was already being driven by strong winds.

A second more powerful tugboat would be also help tow it part of the way, Kore said.

The Norman Atlantic, an Italian-flagged car ferry chartered by Greek operator ANEK Lines, raised the alarm in the early hours of Sunday after fire broke out in its lower decks.

An international rescue operation involving ships and aircraft from Greece, Italy and Albania has battled heavy seas and strong winds to try to evacuate the 478 passengers and crew and is preparing to work through the night.