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Video shows tourists fleeing as liner hits tour boat in Venice

June 4, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Five women, including Australians, were injured on Sunday when a huge ocean cruise liner visiting Venice slammed into a smaller tour ship and a canal wharf, sending tourists and bystanders running for their lives.

The collision has already reignited controversy surrounding the visits of massive ships to the world-renowned – but overcrowded – Italian lagoon city that some say is being overrun by tourists and risks turning into “The Disneyland of the Sea”.

Four of the injured women – two Australians, a New Zealander and an American, aged between 67 and 72 – were hurt falling or trying to run away when the cruise ship rammed into the River Countess. They were treated for minor injuries, Italian news agency ANSA stated.

Video of the crash shows the MSC Opera, 251 metres long, giving a loud and sustained blast on its horn as it towers over the wharf and a smaller tour boat, the River Countess. The enormous ship grows ever closer and seemingly ever larger, heading straight for the wharf and apparently unable to stop, sending pedestrians fleeing in panic. Finally, you hear the fearful crunching sound of the ship, 65,591 gross tonnes, grinding into the wharf and boat.

River Countess was docked at the San Basilio Terminal on the Giudecca Canal, the New York Times reported. The accident happened at about 8.30am, a time when passengers often disembark from smaller vessels.

MSC Opera, built in 2004, is operated by MSC Cruises. The ship served as the line’s flagship until MSC Musica entered service in 2006. MSC Opera can accommodate 2679 passengers in 1071 cabins and host a crew of about 728.

Even in the off season… tourists throng San Marco, Venice

In an issued statement, MSC said its ship was approaching the cruise ship terminal to dock when it encountered a “technical problem”.  It said the ship had been accompanied by two tugboats when it hit the wharf and the smaller boat.

Investigations were underway to “understand the exact dynamic of the facts,” the statement said.

ANSA quoted Venetian Mayor Luigi Brugnaro saying the accident confirmed it was “no longer thinkable that big ships can pass through the Giudecca Canal. We’ve been saying it for eight years.”

Tourists watch in shock as MSC Opera approaches wharf

Large ships enjoy giving their passengers a view of St Mark’s Basilica but moves are afoot to ban them from the Basin of St Mark and the Giudecca Canal.

Venice is one of the gems of Europe but is frequently used as an example of overtourism.

The shipping accident happened just one day after a Hungarian judge ordered the formal arrest of a captain whose Viking river cruise ship collided with a sightseeing boat on the Danube River in Budapest. That crash sank the tourist boat and left seven South Korean tourists dead and 21 other people missing. As several days have passed since that accident on the Danube, it’s unlikely that any of those missing will be found alive.

Written by Peter Needham

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