Ship Accident in Genoa, Seven Confirmed Dead

Ship Accident in Genoa, Seven Confirmed Dead
Ship Accident in Genoa, Seven Confirmed Dead

Ship Accident in Genoa, Seven Confirmed Dead

A container ship collided into a harbor control tower in Genoa, Italy late Tuesday night, killing up to eight people and leaving one person still missing.  Seven people are confirmed dead and have been recovered from the scene of the accident; an eighth person still missing is feared to be dead.

The glass-topped tower was 50-meters high, overlooking the harbor; it was struck and destroyed by the Jolly Nero as it navigated towards the control tower.  However, instead of turning towards the open waters of the sea, for Naples, the Jolly Nero hit the shore and the tower.

The ship destroyed a tower in Italy’s most bustling port in Genoa, trapping people in an elevator that plunged into the sea; others were flung into the icy water, according to Italy’s fire brigade.

One man, 50, was rescued after 12 hours of being in the wreckage; he was taken to a local hospital after being found by rescue workers recovering bodies.  Rescue divers recovered some of the bodies from the water.

While the investigation is in the very early stages, initial reports suggest mechanical failure for the 37-year-old vessel.  Per protocol,

Ship Accident in Genoa, Seven Confirmed Dead
Harbor Tower before the accident

the captain has been held for questioning, and the ship has been isolated for the inquiry.

“‘We do not know much about what caused it. It is so unexpected that it is inexplicable. It was a routine manoeuvre,’ Daniele Bo, spokesman for the ship’s owner Ignazio Messina & Co, said. (

Part of the investigative theory is that perhaps, engine failure forced the ship to steer off course; however, Prosecutor Michele Di Lecce reminds everyone this is only a theory as the investigation is only in the beginning stages.

Damage to the port was substantial; when the tower was struck, two contiguous three-story office buildings overseeing 6,600 transit ships annually, carrying loads of more than 50 million tons of cargo, were destroyed.

However, the Jolly Nero built in 1976, was virtually undamaged.  The container ship has a gross tonnage of over 40,000, is almost 200 meters long, and 30 meters wide.

Weather was not believed to play a factor in Tuesday night’s accident, “Weather conditions were perfect, there was no wind, there were no other ships on the move,” said Luigi Merlo, head of Genoa’s port authority.  (

The crash of the Jolly Roger is the worst maritime disaster in Italy since the Costa Concordia in 2012 in which 32 people were killed and the captain abandoned the ship.   Arguably, it does bring back bad memories of this most recent event, but it is not the worst disaster at sea Italy has ever seen.

The SS Principessa Mafalda ocean liner sank on October 25, 1927.  The ship was off the coast of Brazil when the propeller shaft fractured, damaging the hull causing the ship to slowly sink.  Passengers and crew panicked, causing the death of 314 souls.

On September 23, 1943, 1,576 Italian POW’s were killed when the Gaetano Donizetti was sunk by the HMS Eclipse, killing them as well as 220 guards and crew.  Not long after, in February of 1944, on the 12th, the SS Oria sank in a storm, 4,000 Italian prisoners of war perished along with the ship.

In 1943 at The Disaster in Corfu Bay, on October 9, Mario Roselli, while being taken over in the harbor by German soldiers and used to transport Italian POWs, it was bombed.  Allied aircraft bombed the ship and motorboats used to transport the POWs, killing in total 1,302 victims.

Ship Accident in Genoa, Seven Confirmed Dead
Ship Accident in Genoa, Seven Confirmed Dead

A collision between the ferry Moby Prince with the oil tanker Agip Abruzzo on April 10, 1991 caused a fire, killing 140 people.  However, most were not killed directly by the fire; and had Moby Prince’s May Day signal been stronger, many might have been rescued.  Rescuers from Livorno Harbor responded only to the oil tanker’s distress calls, and even then, the tanker thought they hit a barge, causing further chaos with the rescue.

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