4 tourists injured in Venice as cruise ship slams into boat
A towering, out-of-control cruise ship rammed into a dock and a tourist river boat on a busy Venice canal on Sunday morning, injuring four tourists and sparking new calls for placing restrictions on cruise ships in the famed but strained tourist city.
The collision happened about 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) on the Giudecca Canal, a major thoroughfare that leads to St Mark’s Square in the northeastern Italian city.
The cruise ship, apparently unable to stop, blared its horn as it slammed into the much smaller river boat and the dock as dozens of people ran away in panic.
Elisabetta Pasqualin was watering plants on her terrace when she heard warning sirens and stepped out to see the crash.
“There was this huge ship in a diagonal position in the Giudecca Canal, with a tugboat near, which seemed like it couldn’t do anything,” she said.
She described the ship “advancing slowly but inevitably towards the dock”. She said: “The bow of the ship crashed hard into the bank, with its massive weight crushing a big piece of it. Sirens were wailing loudly; it was a very dramatic scene.”
She said that when the cruise ship rammed the river boat, the smaller vessel looked like it was ‘made of plastic or paper’ rather than steel.
Medical authorities say four female tourists — an American, a New Zealander and two Australians between the ages of 67 and 72 — were injured falling or trying to run away when the cruise ship rammed into the tourist boat, the River Countess.
Venice is a tremendously popular site for both tourists and cruise ships, especially during the summer tourist season.
The cruise ship’s owner, MSC Cruises, said the ship, the MSC Opera, was about to dock at a passenger terminal in Venice when it had a mechanical problem. Two tugboats guiding the cruise ship into Venice tried to stop the massive cruise ship, but they were unable to prevent it from ramming into the river boat.
“The two tugboats tried to stop the giant, and then a tow cable broke, cut by the collision with the river boat,” Davide Calderan, president of a tugboat association in Venice, told the Italian news agency ANSA.
Calderan said the cruise ship’s engine was locked when the captain called for help. Following the collision, calls for banning cruise ships in Venice, long a source of contention in the over-extended tourist city, were renewed.