Amazing scenes in Venice today as the MSC Opera collided with a dock and a Uniworld river ship after apparently losing control as it docked.
The smash, which was seen on video, has reignited the debate over whether large cruise ships should be banned from the city’s Giudecca canal, with ministers calling for action.
Venice has been in the midst of the overtourism debate for some years, with the city bitterly divided over the benefits or otherwise of the millions who visit the city.
Cruise ships have born the brunt of many of the complaints thanks to their high visibility.
“Four elderly people were injured as they tried to escape the ship on Sunday when the Opera collided with a Earlier this morning, around 08:30am CET, MSC Opera experienced a technical issue while manoeuvring towards Venice’s cruise terminal for mooring. Albeit the ship was accompanied by two tug boats, as required by the local safety procedures, and even though the captain immediately applied all required procedures, the ship grazed the dock at San Basilio. This also caused a collision with a river boat, the River Countess, that was moored there,” says MSC Cruises in a statement.
“While the investigation to understand the exact causes of the events are currently ongoing, MSC Cruises has been closely collaborating with the competent maritime authorities. Right after the incident, the priority was to first help securing the river boat and all her passengers and crew. Subsequently, the ship proceeded with lifting the anchors which had been lowered into the water at the time of the incident, as per procedure in such cases. At 13:15 CET the ship was able to move towards the Marittima terminal.
“MSC Cruises is committed to offer its full support to all the persons involved in the incident, starting with the people of the River Countess and her owner Uniworld, her crew, and all passengers, especially the four passengers who were injured. While two persons have already been dismissed from hospital this afternoon, two other persons are receiving further medical care. We are maintaining via Uniworld a close contact with them and we have dedicated staff offering assistance on the ground if needed.
“On MSC Opera, there were no reported injuries.
“Throughout the process and from the first moment, the company has been in constant contact with local and national authorities and offering its full collaboration.
“MSC Opera is now moored at the Marittima quay where passenger disembarkation operations and embarkation operations for the next cruise are in progress as planned. and a small tourist boat after losing control.”
Italian Ministers said the crash proved the need for a ban on liners, and that they were working to resolve the problem.
Environment Minister Sergio Costa wrote on Twitter (in Italian): “Cruise ships must not sail down the Giudecca. We have been working on moving them for months now… and are nearing a solution.”
Other ministers also took to social media to agree.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro urged an alternative channel, known as the Vittorio Emanuele, be immediately opened.
The Giudecca is one of Venice’s major waterways and leads to St Marks Square.
Critics say waves created by cruise ships on the canal erode the foundations of the city, which regularly suffers from flooding.
Venice’s port authority called for action to resolve the issue of high cruise ship traffic.
In 2013, Venice banned ships weighing more than 96,000 tonnes from the Giudecca canal, but the laws were defeated soon afterwards in 2015.
Two years ago, the government pledged it would divert larger ships from the area, but the laws have still to come into force.
Further information on the status of Uniworld’s River Countess can be found at River Cruise Passenger.