Thousands call for ban on huge cruise ships in Venice after collision

Thousands of people took to the streets in Venice last Saturday, calling for a ban on large cruise ships in the city following last week's collision between a massive vessel and a tourist boat. According to the Italian media, around 5,000 demonstrato
PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Thousands of people took to the streets in Venice last Saturday, calling for a ban on large cruise ships in the city following last week's collision between a massive vessel and a tourist boat.

According to the Italian media, around 5,000 demonstrators marched through the city carrying banners with slogans such as "Keep large boats out of the lagoon".

Mr Gianfranco Bettin, president of the municipality of Marghera, was quoted as saying: "These giants must leave the lagoon. They're incompatible with the delicate balance of the ecosystem and dangerous for the city."

The protest followed an incident on June 2 in which the 13-deck MSC Opera had an engine failure, scraped along the dockside and knocked into a luxury tourist boat. Four tourists were slightly injured in the accident in Venice's Giudecca Canal.

Amateur footage of the incident was posted on social media, sparking a fresh controversy over the damage that mammoth vessels cause to Venice, which is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Critics say the waves that the ships create are eroding the foundations of the city, which regularly floods, leaving iconic sites such as Saint Mark's Square underwater. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2019, with the headline 'Thousands call for ban on huge cruise ships in Venice after collision'. Print Edition | Subscribe