Four injured in MSC cruise ship crash in Venice

The damaged River Countess tourist boat is pictured after it was hit early on 2 June 2019 by MSC Opera cruise ship (R) that lost control as it was coming in to dock in Venice, Italy. Credit: Getty Images

On Sunday, MSC Opera was being guided through the busy Giudecca canal by two towboats when a technical issue occurred on board. Unable to control the ship’s momentum, the vessel sounded its sirens but was unable to prevent a collision with a dock and a tourist boat.

The incident is the second time MSC Opera has experienced engine failure. The first time was in 2011 while transiting between Southampton and St Petersberg, with passengers being forced to disembark in Stockholm rather than at their intended destination.

Investigations are currently under way as to the cause of the MSC Opera’s engine failure, with MSC Cruises stating that it is in contact with local authorities. In the meantime, the ship has been moored at the Marittima terminal, as originally planned, with passenger operations continuing.

The incident incited renewed calls by local activists and ministers to ban large cruise ships from moving through the Giudecca canal. Environment Minister Sergio Costa noted that the crash not only confirmed that big ships should not pass by Giudecca, and that they were close to a solution on the topic. Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Danilo Toninelli echoed the same calls, and noted the need to protect both the lagoon and tourism in the process.

Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, tweeted that the incident could have been much worse and called for the Vittorio Emanuele canal to be opened immediately. The use of the Vittorio Emanuele canal instead of the Giudecca canal offers a longer but safer route to the Marittima terminal where cruise liners may dock.