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Cruise ship rams into tourist boat and dock in Venice, injuring at least 4
[ROME] A colossal cruise liner plowed into a smaller tour ship and a wharf on a canal in Venice on Sunday morning, injuring four people and reigniting arguments about the dangers of allowing the huge vessels to pass through the fragile lagoon city.
Footage of the crash showed the approximately 900-foot-long MSC Opera cruise liner blaring its horn as it hit the wharf and crashed into the tour ship, the River Countess, which was docked at the San Basilio Terminal on the Giudecca Canal, where passengers often disembark from smaller vessels.
The accident occurred around 8:30 a.m. Videos taken from the dock showed the ship heading straight for the wharf, unable to stop, while people on the quay ran away in panic. Four people from the cruise ship were treated for light injuries, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The MSC Opera was approaching the cruise ship terminal in Venice to dock when it had a "technical problem," the ships operator, MSC, said in a statement. The company said the ship had been accompanied by two tugboats when it hit the wharf and the smaller boat at San Basilio.
Investigations were underway to "understand the exact dynamic of the facts," the statement said, adding that the company was cooperating fully with local authorities.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro of Venice said the accident confirmed that "it's no longer thinkable that big ships can pass through the Giudecca Canal. We've been saying it for eight years," ANSA reported. According to the agency, Brugnaro said he had spoken to the Italian infrastructure minister, adding, "Now we must urgently make sure that ships no longer pass in front of St. Mark's."
Venice is a popular destination for cruise ships, which sail past St. Mark's Square and down the Giudecca Canal to dock at the cruise ship terminal. But for years, residents have raised concerns about the effects that the massive ships have had on the frail city, citing the damage caused by pollution, erosion on underwater foundations and potential crashes.
In 2017, officials announced a plan to divert cruise ships along a roundabout route, but it was not put in place, with critics saying the potential impact on the lagoon had not been sufficiently analyzed.