A towering, out-of-control cruise ship rammed into a dock and a tourist riverboat on a busy Venice canal on Sunday morning, injuring five people, officials said. The collision sparked new calls for placing restrictions on cruise ships in the famed city.
The crash happened about 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) on the Giudecca Canal, a major thoroughfare that leads to St. Mark’s Square in the northeastern Italian city.
The MSC Opera cruise ship, apparently unable to stop, blared its horn as it slammed into the much smaller River Countess boat and the dock as dozens of people run away in panic. In videos of the crash, people were seen rushing to disembark from the moored riverboat over a short gangplank, and at least two people were left caught on the walkway as the vessel was dislodged from the pier.
Elisabetta Pasqualin was watering plants on her terrace when she heard warning sirens and stepped out to see the crash.
“There was this huge ship in a diagonal position in the Giudecca Canal, with a tugboat near which seemed like it couldn’t do anything,” she said.
She described the ship “advancing slowly but inevitably towards the dock.” She said “the bow of the ship crashed hard into the bank with its massive weight crushing a big piece of it. Sirens were wailing loudly; it was a very dramatic scene.”
When the cruise ship rammed the riverboat, she said the smaller vessel looked like it was “made of plastic or paper” rather than steel.
Local officials said five women aboard the riverboat were injured. They said one was released immediately from a hospital, while four others were advised to remain under medical care for a few days.
Earlier, medical authorities said four of the women — an American, a New Zealander and two Australians between the ages of 67 and 72 — were injured falling or trying to run away when the cruise ship rammed into the River Countess.
Venice is a tremendously popular site for both tourists and cruise ships, especially during the summer tourist season.