Five people suffered minor injuries after the MSC Opera cruise ship lost control and slammed into a tourist ferry in the Giudecca canal in Venice, Italy, on Sunday morning.
Shocking video shows passengers on the bank of the canal fleeing as the massive ship moved straight towards them. The ship then struck a tourist ferry, tossing at least two people into the water, according to the Venice port authority.
The group No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships) was quick to respond, claiming that this accident is a wake-up call. Currently, cruise ships over 96,000 tons are prohibited from sailing near San Marco square out of fear of an accident. The group has demanded a complete ban of massive cruise ships from the Venice canals, citing the deadly Costa Concordia accident in 2011 that killed 32 people, including two Americans, when a cruise ship slammed into the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Pino Musolino, president of the Port Authority System for the northern Adriatic Sea, told The Daily Beast that they were watching this accident closely.
“We are following the accident that involved the cruise ship MSC Opera and the River Countess river vessel moored in San Basilio this morning, collaborating with Port Authority, Fire Department and security forces,” he said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Today must be reserved for the management of the accident but it is clear that from tomorrow it will be necessary to move at all levels with the utmost speed to finally give a solution to the traffic of large ships in Venice, freeing the San Marco Basin from cruise traffic and the Giudecca Canal.”
Italy’s transportation minister Danilo Toninelli called for an immediate ban of all cruise ships in Venetian canals. “Today’s accident in the port of Venice proves that cruise ships shouldn’t be allowed to pass down the Giudecca anymore,” he said Sunday. “After many years of inertia, we are finally close to a solution to protect both the lagoon and tourism.”
Venetians do not want to ban the cruisers from the city entirely because of the economic benefit. Four percent of the population works directly for the cruise industry and many others benefit indirectly from cruise tourism. Venice is a hub city for many major cruise lines which means local hotels, the airport and train station also benefit from cruise traffic.
Venice has struggled with over-tourism in recent years and has instituted a turnstile system to close parts of the city when it is dangerously overcrowded. The city, which has a fixed population of 660,00, according to the 2018 census, receives more than 20 million tourists each year.