Cruise ship slams into Venice wharf as tourists flee

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The cruise ship MSC Opera loses control and crashes against a smaller tourist boat at the San Basilio dock in Venice, Italy June 2, 2019. (Reuters/Manuel Silvestri)
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The MSC cruise ship Opera is seen after the collision with a tourist boat, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, June 2, 2019. (Andrea Merola/ANSA via AP)
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This video grab handout on June 2, 2019 by the Vigili del Fuoco, the Italian fire and rescue service, shows the damaged River Countess tourist boat (R) after it was hit early on June 2, 2019 by the MSC Opera cruise ship (L) that lost control as it was coming in to dock in Venice, Italy. (AFP/Vigili Del Fuoco)
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A view of the damaged harbor quay after the MSC Opera cruise ship collided with a tourist boat in Venice, Italy, Sunday, June 2, 2019. (Vigili del Fuoco via AP)
Updated 02 June 2019
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Cruise ship slams into Venice wharf as tourists flee

  • Four people were slightly injured in the accident at San Basilio-Zattere in Venice’s Giudecca Canal
  • The four, who were taken to hospital for check-ups, were on board the River Countess tourist boat

VENICE: A massive cruise ship lost control as it docked in Venice on Sunday, crashing into the wharf and hitting a tourist boat after suffering an engine failure.
Tourists on land could be seen running away as the 13-deck MSC Opera scraped along the dockside, its engine blaring, before knocking into a tourist boat, amateur video footage posted on Twitter showed.
Four people were slightly injured in the accident at San Basilio-Zattere in Venice’s Giudecca Canal, port authorities said.

The four, who were taken to hospital for check-ups, were on board the River Countess tourist boat.
The Opera, which suffered mechanical trouble before in 2011 during a Baltic cruise, can carry more than 2,500 passengers and boasts a theater, ballroom and water park for children.
“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.
The accident reignited a heated row in the Serenissima 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.
Venice’s port authority said it was was working to resolve the accident and free up the blocked canal in the north Italian city.
“In addition to protecting the Unesco heritage city, we have to safeguard the environment, and the safety of citizens and tourists,” Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli said.
Nicola Fratoianni, an MP with the Italian Left party, noted Italy’s open-armed attitude to cruise ships contrasted sharply with its hostile approach to charity rescue vessels that help migrants who run into difficulty in the Mediterranean.
“It is truly curious that a country that tries to stop ships that have saved people at sea from entering its ports allows giant steel monsters to risk carnage in Venice,” he said.
MSC Cruises, founded in Italy in 1960, is a global line registered in Switzerland and based in Geneva.
The Opera, built 15 years ago, suffered a power failure in 2011 in the Baltic, forcing some 2,000 people to be disembarked in Stockholm rather than continuing their Southampton to Saint Petersburg voyage.

 

 


Greta Thunberg to US Congress: ‘Don’t listen to me, listen to the scientists’

Updated 6 min 16 sec ago

Greta Thunberg to US Congress: ‘Don’t listen to me, listen to the scientists’

WASHINGTON: Teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who has inspired a global movement for climate change, delivered a pointed message before a US congressional hearing on Wednesday: “I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists.”
The 16-year old founder of the “Fridays For Future” weekly school walkouts to demand government climate-change action submitted a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the hearing in lieu of testimony. It urged rapid, unprecedented changes to the way people live in order to keep temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by 2030.
“People in general don’t seem to be aware of how severe the crisis” is, Thunberg said, urging lawmakers to “unite behind the science” and take action, pleading that people treat climate change “like the existential crisis it is.”
Thunberg was one of four students invited to a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, to provide the next generation’s views on climate change.
She has been in Washington since last week to join US and indigenous activists to build up support for a global climate strike on Friday and pressure lawmakers to take action on climate change.
At the hearing on Wednesday was also 21-year-old conservative climate-change advocate Benji Backer. He told lawmakers that young conservatives also favor climate change action, but through an approach focused on technology and allowing the continued use of fossil fuels.
“As a proud American, as a life-long conservative and as a young person, I urge you to accept climate change for the reality it is and respond accordingly. We need your leadership,” he said.
While he praised Thunberg and other climate activists for putting the issue at the forefront of politics, he said there was time to take more measured action.
In addition to meetings on Capitol Hill, Thunberg met former President Barack Obama on Tuesday. Obama described the teenager on Twitter as “already one of the planet’s greatest advocates.”
Later on Wednesday, she will join seven young Americans who have sued the US government for failing to take action on climate change on the steps of the Supreme Court. They will urge political leaders and lawmakers to support their legal fight and take action to phase out the use of fossil fuels.
At the panel, Republican representatives praised the students for raising awareness about climate change but disagreed over what action the US should take.
Representative Garret Graves from Louisiana, said his state was affected by rising sea levels and that he supported the US emission reduction target enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, but he criticized the pact for allowing emerging economies like China to continue to emit greenhouse gases.
“I think that signing on to an agreement...that allows for China to have a 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030 is inappropriate,” he said.
Thunberg responded that in her home country, Sweden, people similarly criticize the United States for not taking enough action.
Another activist on the panel, 17-year-old Jamie Margolin from Seattle, called out lawmakers for taking too long to enact climate change policies.
“The fact that you are staring at a panel of young people testifying before you today pleading for a livable earth should not fill you with pride; it should fill you with shame,” she said.