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MSC Cruises and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises have had to cancel and alter some upcoming itineraries after a collision involving the MSC Opera and Uniworld’s River Countess occurred in Venices’ Giudecca Canal.

The River Countess was docked and nearing the disembarkation process at the time of the incident and according to reports, four passengers from the river ship were injured, including an Australian. The passengers are being kept in hospital for precautionary measures.

Video footage shows the MSC Opera scraping alongside the dock before bumping into the Rover Countess, dislodging her from the side of the dock.

While an investigation is currently underway, there were initial speculations which suggest that a cable used to link the MSC Opera to the tug boats to pull the ship into the city’s canal, broke.

However, David Calderan, the head of the tugboat company involved in steering the ship towards the city, told Italian media that the problem was the MSC Opera’s engine.

“The MSC ship had an engine failure, which was immediately reported by the captain,” Mr Calderan said.

“The engine was blocked but because of thrust on, the speed was increasing.

“The two tug boats that had been guiding the ship into the dock tried to slow it down, but one of the chains linking them to the giant snapped under the pressure.”

MSC Cruises said in a statement earlier today: “Following yesterday’s incident involving MSC Opera in Venice, earlier this morning MSC Cruises received permission from the authorities to commence the repair works. The damage to the ship is limited to the outermost part of the hull. Welding works are currently being carried out, but at this point the estimated time of completion of these works is yet to be determined,” said a spokesperson.

“At the same time, the investigation into the causes of the incident is taking longer than originally expected and for this reason the ship is unlikely to set sail later today or tomorrow. To this end, from the very beginning MSC Cruises has worked closely with the authorities involved, and has offered full cooperation around the clock to help establish all the facts as well as retrieve all technical data.

“In connection with the above, MSC Cruises has taken the decision to cancel the current cruise through the beginning of the next one and to reimburse to each passenger the full cost of their cruise ticket and any pre-paid services.

“The ship will however remain available to all those passengers who wish to stay on-board while she remains in Venice and through the end of their scheduled cruise. All on board services and entertainment will continue to fully operate. In addition, free regular shuttle boat service to and from Piazza San Marco in Venice will be available to all passengers.

“For those passengers who prefer leaving the ship today or at any point and going back home, MSC Cruises will provide all necessary assistance for the transportation and will take charge of the costs.

“For those passengers expected to disembark in Bari on Saturday 8 who wish to stay onboard, the ship is currently scheduled to leave Venice by Friday 7 and to call Bari on Saturday. From there on, MSC Opera will sail as per schedule.”

Uniworld also updated its statement today saying: “The River Countess was hit by the MSC Opera, a large ocean ship while docked at the San Basilio Cruise Terminal in Venice, Italy yesterday. At the time of the accident, only 26 of the ship’s 130 passengers remained on board, with most having already disembarked and transferring to flights home.

“Following a complete review by the company’s technical and nautical team, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection announces the next six sailings of the River Countess will be cancelled. This includes the “Gems of Northern Italy” cruise-tour dates originally scheduled for June 7, 14, 21 and 28, July 5 and 12.”

The president and CEO of the line, Ellen Bettridge said the ship will resume sailing on July 21 when it departs from Venice to Milan following a two-night land tour that begins on July 19.

“We have begun immediate outreach to our guests and travel advisor partners with this news and are offering options to rebook.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support and well-wishes by our guests, travel advisor partners and industry colleagues, and would like to thank everyone for their support during this time.”