Cruise Passenger Dies in Gangway Collapse

An investigation is underway in Genoa, Italy, where a woman cruise ship passenger died and a man was injured after a gangway collapsed.

According to various news reports, 62-year-old Maria Mercedes Bonastre and Fausto del Charro, 60, both from Barcelona, were boarding the 3,274-passenger MSC Splendida when the metal walkway attaching the ship to the quay suddenly gave way and crashed more than 30 feet into the sea.

Bonastre hit her head on the quay and died instantly while del Charro was rescued by crew, who jumped into the water to try to save the pair. He was taken to the hospital with what were described as several bruises.

According to the UK's Daily Mail, dozens of horrified passengers witnessed the event.

The injured Spanish man's wife told Italian newspaper l'Occidentale her husband "literally disappeared before me, rushing in a vacuum."

The couple had been boarding the one-year-old cruise ship for a weeklong dream vacation with friends, according the the Italian paper.

Cruise line MSC Cruises said in a statement the gangway (also known as a "finger bridge") had been seized by Italian authorities, and a "sudden release" appeared to be the source of the incident.

"Technical assessments and the official investigation are going to clarify the dynamics that led to the tragic event," the line said.

The public prosecutor in Genoa initiated an investigation and is looking at several causes including shifting of the ship, a gust of wind, human error in attaching the gangway and a structural failure, l'Occidentale reports.

The 133,000-ton, 18-deck ship has the distinction of having as its godmother Italian actress Sophia Loren.

Despite the tragedy in Genoa, the ship headed off on its scheduled itinerary to Marseilles (France), Barcelona, Tunis (Tunisia), Malta, Messina (Sicily) and Civitavecchia (Italy).

Photo, fabrizio.binello, flickr
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