A towering, out-of-control cruise ship rammed into a dock and a tourist riverboat on a busy Venice canal on Sunday morning, injuring four tourists and sparking new calls for placing restrictions on cruise ships in the famed but strained tourist city.
The collision 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 cruise ship, apparently unable to stop, blared its horn as it slammed into the much smaller riverboat and the dock as dozens of people run away in panic.
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.
Medical authorities say four female tourists 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 tourist boat, the River Countess.
Venice is a tremendously popular site for both tourists and cruise ships, especially during the summer tourist season.