An MSC Cruises ship has collided with a wharf and smashed a tourist boat after losing control while docking, injuring five and sending frightened onlookers fleeing.
Multiple media reports have said the incident involving the 13-deck MSC Opera vessel occurred on Sunday morning local time, when the ship lost control after suffering an engine fault while docking at Guidecca Canal on Saturday.
Medical authorities say five people, including two Australians, a New Zealander and an American 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, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Here the video from people angle escaping from cruise ship losing control approaching the pier in Venice.
The noise of siren and of clash is totally frightening, looking like a scene from a disaster movie #grandinavi pic.twitter.com/TGIIR2oFut
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 2, 2019
Four of those were on board the River Countess, a 130-passenger vessel operated by River Cruises.
“The MSC ship had an engine failure, which was immediately reported by the captain,” Davide Calderan, head of a tugboat company involved in accompanying the ship into its berth, told Italian media.
“The engine was blocked, but with its thrust on, because the speed was increasing.”
The two tug boats that had been guiding the ship into the Giudecca reportedly tried to slow it down, but one of the chains linking them to the Opera snapped under the pressure.
Venice’s port authority told Al Jazeera it was working to resolve the accident and free up the blocked canal in the north Italian city.
“In addition to protecting the Unesco heritage city, we have to safeguard the environment, and the safety of citizens and tourists,” Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli said.
Al Jazeera reported that the Opera, which can carry more than 2,500 people, previously suffered mechanical troubles in 2011 during a Baltic cruise after a power failure forced 2,000 passengers to disembark in Stockholm rather than continue on to Southampton for their Saint Petersburg voyage.
The incident has reignited concerns by locals and Italian authorities over cruise ships docking in Venice, with calls for further restrictions on large vessels docking in the Unesco-listed city.
Italy’s Transport Minister, Danilo Toninelli, has called for cruise ships to be banned from using the Giudecca Canal, according to ABC News.
“Today’s accident in the port of Venice proves that cruise ships shouldn’t be allowed to pass down the Giudecca anymore,” he said.
“After many years of inertia, we are finally close to a solution to protect both the lagoon and tourism.”