Update, noon: Media outlets have reported that the passenger rescued by four crewmembers after the gangway collapsed is an 80-year-old native of Italy. MSC tells us today that he is in stable condition at a local hospital and "is recovering well," and that local port authorities have confirmed their responsibility for the incident.
(March 6) -- Strong winds in Palma del Mallorca caused a gangway to collapse Thursday, injuring one passenger who was disembarking MSC Cruises' 133,500-ton, 3,300-passenger MSC Fantasia. BBC News and other outlets have reported that the man, who is currently hospitalized in Spain, sustained a head injury. An MSC Cruises spokesman had no additional information on the man's condition at press time.
An official statement from the Italy-based cruise company reads: "MSC Fantasia was moored and passengers were disembarking when the strong winds to which the ship was exposed caused three bow mooring bitts [fittings on the pier to which ships tie up] to become detached simultaneously. As a result, the ship moved away from the dock causing a disembarking guest to fall into the water. Four members of the crew immediately dove in to help the man who was brought to shore in just a few minutes and taken to [a] hospital for a checkup and is currently under observation.
"The captain immediately took control of the ship, preventing any damage, and the ship was transferred to a different pier. MSC Cruises has lodged an official complaint with the port authorities regarding their responsibility in the matter."
According to news reports, winds at the time of the incident were approximately 110 kilometers (about 68 miles) per hour. Video footage on the BBC News Web site shows the gangway falling into the water, and the passenger swimming away from the scene.
Though initial reports indicated that four passengers took a fall, an MSC Cruises spokesman confirms that only one passenger was on the gangway at the time. The fact that crewmembers jumped in after him to provide assistance explains why there were several people in the water toward the end of the video clip.
The BBC News article was updated to reflect this info. The same article also initially cited that others in the water were being treated for hypothermia, but that information has since been stricken from the story (and an MSC spokesperson had heard no such reports.)
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor
--Image appears courtesy of the BBC Web site.
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Update: MSC Passenger Injured During Gangway Collapse
March 9, 2009