FOUR tourists were injured when a cruise ship slammed headlong into a dock in Venice yesterday.
The 66,000-ton MSC Opera crashed into the much slower River Countess tourist boat before hitting the side of the Giudecca Canal. Footage showed some of the 2,679 passengers on board running from the bridge of the ship seconds before impact.
Screams could also be heard from bystanders who ran from the quayside as the 177ft-tall liner approached, scraping its hull and damaging bricks on the shore. The ship’s siren could be heard across the Italian city.
Four tourists, aged between 67 and 72, from Australia, New Zealand and the US suffered minor injuries.
A crew member on the River Countess, which was left adrift, said: ‘When we saw the ship bearing down on us, everyone began shouting and running. I didn’t know what to do. I got away quickly, jumping to get on shore.’
Owner MSC Cruises said its cruise ship was about to dock at a passenger terminal when it suffered a mechanical problem and two tugboats guiding the vessel were unable to stop it.
‘The two tugboats tried to stop the giant and then a tow cable broke, cut by the collision with the river boat,’ said Davide Calderan, president of a Venice tugboat association.
The crash came four days after at least seven people died on the Danube, in the Hungarian capital Budapest, when two sightseeing boats collided under a bridge. Twenty-one people remain missing, presumed dead.
Residents in Venice have claimed the huge ships erode the foundations of the flood-prone world heritage city.
Calls to ban huge liners from city
ITALY’S transport minister has called for cruise ships to be banned from using the Giudecca Canal following the MSC Opera collision.
Danilo Toninelli said it ‘proves cruise ships shouldn’t be allowed to pass down the Giudecca any more’. The canal leads directly to the city’s world famous St Mark’s Square and is regularly occupied by liners.
Protesters from the No Big Ships pressure group assembled on the quayside after the crash to demand restrictions. Activist Jane Da Masto, of the We Are Here Venice group, said: ‘Our worst fears have come true.’