The Foreign Office last night said it believes some British nationals are among scores of people already rescued from a burning ferry, but others face an anxious wait in the darkness.
The Italian Navy said 165 people had been plucked from the stricken Norman Atlantic by yesterday evening, more than 14 hours after the fire erupted.
One person has died and 312 were last night still on board the ferry, which is now adrift in rough seas between Italy and Albania.
Rescue crews have been battling gale-force winds and massive waves.
The fire broke out before dawn on Sunday on a car deck as the ferry sailed from the Greek port of Patras to the Italian port of Ancona on the Adriatic, with 422 passengers and 56 crew members on board.
"A number of British nationals were on board. We believe some have now been rescued, but the rescue operation is ongoing," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said last night.