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Captain of crashed Venice cruise ship under investigation for 'criminal damage'

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Captain of crashed Venice cruise ship under investigation for 'criminal damage'
The MSC Opera looms over the smaller boat it crashed into after an engine failure on Sunday. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP
16:35 CEST+02:00
The captain and pilot of a cruise ship that smashed into Venice harbour face possible charges of "criminal damage with danger of causing a shipwreck".

Prosecutors in Venice are investigating several people responsible for the MSC Opera, which suffered an engine failure before crashing into a smaller boat followed by a wharf on the Giudecca Canal on Sunday, it was announced on Tuesday.

A number of port officials are also under investigation.

Four people were injured in the incident, which has renewed calls for cruise liners to be banned from Venice.

WATCH: Cruise ship crashes into Venice wharf as tourists flee

"We have to protect the environment without hurting the economy, In my opinion the two things can go together," commented Italy's environment minister, Sergio Costa, who promised that national and regional authorities would propose reforms by the end of this month.

Venice's council has for several years proposed that cruise ship traffic be rerouted to the Vittorio Emanuele III Canal, a wider channel that's currently disused, without getting the approval of the national government.


Another mega cruise liner operated by the same company waits outside Venice. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

But that solution would require dredging the canal to make it deeper, which experts fear would accelerate erosion in the Venice lagoon. Some have proposed building a floating port out to sea, banishing large ships from the fragile lagoon altogether.

Even if authorities decide quickly, it will be several years before any new route is ready to use.

READ ALSO: New calls for Venice to ban cruise ships after harbour crash

Meanwhile the Italian-run company that operates the Opera, MSC Cruises, says it has cancelled the reminder of the fateful cruise and offered passengers a full refund. 

The liner itself remains docked at the Sant'Elena maritime station in Venice, where authorities are investigating the cause of the accident. 

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