Nine people were feared dead yesterday after a container ship smashed into a control tower in Genoa in a nighttime accident that left several missing.
About 14 people were in the 50m high glass-topped tower when it was hit by the ship’s stern as it ploughed into the dock. Some were thrown into the cold water, while others were trapped under rubble or in an elevator, which may have toppled into the sea, media reports said.
The vast red ship was following protocol and navigating towards the control tower, when it failed to reverse properly before turning out into open sea and rammed into the concrete and metal structure. Initial reports suggested it had suffered a mechanical failure.
Claudio Burlando, president of the Liguria region that is home to the port city, told SKY TG 24 that “the ship was being conducted by an on-board pilot and two tug boats, one in front and one behind.”
“It was a maneuver done hundreds of times. We’re all wondering what could have happened,” he said.
One of the victims was reported to be Daniele Fratantonio, 30, who worked for the coast guard operations center, while another was said to be a 47-year-old father of two.
Rescue workers dived into the inky waters around the port — the busiest in Italy — in a frantic search to find those missing after the crash, which seriously wounded four.
“The weather conditions were perfect, there was no wind, there were no other ships on the move,” Luigi Merlo, the head of Genoa’s port authority, told reporters.
One of the pilots was quoted as saying: “Two engines seem to have failed and we lost control of the ship.”
The recovery of a fourth body from the water and a fifth inside the collapsed elevator shaft reduced the number of people still missing to four, a spokesman for the Genoa Fire-brigade said.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation.