CBC News:– 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 around 8:30 a.m. local time on the Giudecca Canal, a major thoroughfare that leads to Saint Mark’s Square in the northeastern Italian city.
Videos of the crash show the cruise ship, apparently unable to halt its momentum, blaring its horn as it plows into the much smaller boat, the River Countess, and the dock while people nearby run 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 toward 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.”
When the cruise ship rammed the river boat, she said the smaller vessel looked like it was “made of plastic or paper” rather than steel.
Shortly after the crash, a government official called for cruise ships to be banned from using the Giudecca Canal.
“Today’s accident in the port of Venice proves that cruise ships shouldn’t be allowed to pass down the Giudecca anymore,” Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s transport minister said.
“After many years of inertia, we are finally close to a solution to protect both the lagoon and tourism,” he said.
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 towboats 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.
MSC Cruises says it is co-operating with authorities to figure out what happened.