A towering, out-of-control cruise ship rammed into a dock and a tourist river boat on a busy Venice canal yesterday morning, injuring at least five people.
The collision happened about 8:30am on the Giudecca Canal, a major thoroughfare that leads to Saint Mark’s Square in the 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 river boat and the dock as dozens of people run away in panic.
The ship’s owner, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises, said the 13-deck MSC Opera was about to dock at a passenger terminal in Venice when it had a mechanical problem.
Two towboats guiding the ship into Venice tried to stop it, but they were unable to prevent it from ramming into the River Countess.
“The two towboats tried to stop the giant and then a tow cable broke, cut by the collision with the river boat,” Davide Calderan, president of a towboat 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 accident, calls for banning cruise ships in Venice, long a source of contention in the over-extended city, were renewed.
According to its sailing schedule, the Opera left Venice on Sunday last week and traveled to Kotor, Montenegro, and Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu in Greece before returning yesterday to Venice.
In other news, a Hungarian judge on Saturday ordered the formal arrest of a captain whose Viking river ship collided with a sightseeing boat on the Danube River on Wednesday, leaving seven South Koreans dead and 21 other people missing.
The judge ordered the 64-year-old Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn arrested for 30 days.
He said the captain, identified only as Yuriy C in line with Hungarian laws, could be released on bail — subject to him wearing a tracking device and remaining in Budapest — but prosecutors are appealing that decision.
Authorities said water levels in Budapest are expected to fall quickly in the coming days, helping efforts to salvage the wreckage that may still contain victims’ bodies.
Divers so far have been unable to even approach the wreckage of the 27m tour boat due to high water levels, strong currents and murky waters.
Additional reporting by AFP
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