VENICE: A massive cruise ship lost control as it docked in Venice on Sunday, crashing into the wharf and hitting a tourist boat after suffering an engine failure, reports AFP.
Tourists on the harbour could be seen running away as the 13-deck MSC Opera scraped along the dockside, its engine blaring, before knocking into the tourist boat, amateur video footage posted on Twitter showed.“When we saw the ship bearing down on us, everyone began shouting and running,” a sailor who was on the River Countess tourist boat was quoted as saying by Italian media.
“I didn’t know what to do. I got away quickly, jumping to get on shore,” said the man, who was not named.
Four tourists were slightly injured in the accident at San Basilio-Zattere in Venice’s Giudecca Canal, port authorities said.
The foreigners, aged between 67 and 72 years old, were from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, according to media reports, which said they were hurt as they escaped.
The Opera, which suffered mechanical trouble before in 2011 during a Baltic cruise, can carry more than 2,500 passengers and boasts a theatre, ballroom and water park for children.
“The MSC ship had an engine failure, which was immediately reported by the captain,” Davide Calderan, head of a tugboat company involved in accompanying the ship into its berth, told Italian media.“The engine was blocked, but with its thrust on, because the speed was increasing,” he said.
The two tug boats that had been guiding the ship into the Giudecca tried to slow it, but one of the chains linking them to the giant snapped under the pressure, he added.
The accident reignited a heated row in the Serenissima over the damage caused to the city and its fragile ecosystem by cruise ships that sail exceptionally close to the shore.
While gondoliers in striped T-shirts and woven straw hats row tourists around the narrow canals, the smoking chimneys of mammoth ships loom into sight behind the city’s picturesque bell towers and bridges.