Cruise ship loses control, slams into Venice wharf and a tourist boat after engine failure.
On Sunday morning, Tourists ran for their lives in Venice as a massive MSC cruise ship lost control, crashing into the wharf and hitting a luxury sightseeing boat after suffering an engine failure.
"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.
"I could see the prow coming closer, and I thought it would hit my house. The noise was defeaning," one Venetian resident was quoted as saying by Italian media.
The accident reignited a heated row in Venice 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.
Critics say the waves the ships create are eroding the foundations of the lagoon city, which regularly floods, leaving iconic sites such as Saint Mark's Square underwater.
"What happened in the port of Venice is confirmation of what we have been saying for some time," 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," he said.