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Published on Monday, June 3, 2019

MSC collision leads to renewed calls for Venice cruise ship ban

Officials in Venice have repeated calls for a ban on large cruise ships after five people were injured on Sunday when an MSC vessel lost control and collided with a dock and a Uniworld boat in Venice.

Video of the crash emerged on social media showing people running in panic as the 2,679-passenger MSC Opera crashed into the dock and Uniworld's River Countess.

MSC said the ship had technical issues and that two tow boats had been deployed to guide it but had been unable to stop the collision, which happened at 8.30am local time.

The incident has led to renewed calls for a ban on large cruise ships in the city's Giudecca canal, a major waterway which leads towards St Mark's Square.

The city's Mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, said an alternative route must open immediately to stop overcrowding, pollution and the risk of damaging historical infrastructure.

He tweeted: "We have four people bruised and one wounded ... it could have been much worse. It is no longer conceivable that big ships cross the Giudecca canal. We ask for the immediate opening of the Vittorio Emanuele [canal]."

Italy's Environment Minister Sergio Costa wrote on Twitter: "Cruise ships must not sail down the Giudecca. We have been working on moving them for months now... and are nearing a solution."

MSC issued a statement on Monday saying: "While the investigation to understand the exact causes of the events are still 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 (yesterday) 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 yesterday 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."

A statement from Uniworld said: "Four guests with minor injuries were escorted to the hospital by Italian-speaking Uniworld staff. No crew members were injured. The accident occurred after most guests of the 130-passenger River Countess had disembarked and were transferring for flights home.

"Uniworld's technical and nautical crisis response team is on the way to Venice to thoroughly evaluate The River Countess and take necessary action.

"Guests slated to arrive today have been informed and are under the care of Uniworld who is providing hotel accommodation."

Sunday's incident comes just days after a fatal collision on the Danube in Budapest between a Viking River Cruise and a smaller tour boat.



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