Gangway Collapse Kills Cruise Passenger; New Details

July 26, 2010
Update: 5:20 p.m. EDT: There are no new details available this evening; an MSC spokesperson did not respond to our request for additional information by press time.

(6:30 a.m. EDT) -- Further details are emerging about Saturday's tragic gangway accident in Genoa, in which a Spanish woman died and a man was injured.

Passengers were boarding the 133,500-ton, 3,300-passenger MSC Splendida at Genoa port's Ponte Andrea Doria for a seven night cruise due to call at Marseille, Barcelona, Tunis, Malta, Messina and Civitavecchia.

The gangway, which belongs to Genoa's Stazione Marittime, suddenly released and two passengers fell into the water, some 30 feet below. As described by Britain's Daily Mail, a woman passenger interviewed on Italian TV said: "Suddenly, the gangway wasn't there anymore."

One of the two passengers who fell, identified by Italian newspaper L'Occidentale as 62-year-old Maria Mercedes Bonastre of Barcelona, was killed instantly when her head struck the quay. A 60-year-old man, Fausto del Charro, also from Barcelona, also hit his head but was rescued by two dock workers and an officer from the ship. Mr. de Charro escaped with bruising but is currently under observation in hospital in Genoa, according to a statement from MSC.

This is the rest of the official statement provided to Cruise Critic by the cruise line: "Following today's accident in the port of Genoa, MSC Splendida left the port in the late afternoon to continue her cruise as scheduled. As previously stated the incident involved two Spanish tourists, one deceased. The finger bridge managed by the maritime station of Genoa has been seized by the authorities. Its sudden release seems, in fact, to be the source of the unfortunate incident. Technical assessments and the official investigation are going to clarify the dynamics that led to the tragic event."

According to L'Occidentale, three possible causes of the accident are being considered at the moment: a sudden gust of wind causing the gangway to collapse; human error in attaching the gangway; or structural failure of the gangway.

Two other ships were in port, Louis Majesty and Ocean Village, although both used a different terminal. They departed as scheduled.

MSC's ships are a regular presence at Genoa, which serves as a turnaround port of many of the line's cruises. Our sympathy goes to the friends and family of Mrs. Bonastre. We'll keep you informed as the investigation continues.

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor

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