INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Five people died, four were injured and five were missing in Genoa in north-western Italy after a container ship crashed into the control tower of the city's port, news reports said Wednesday.
Three of the victims, who were all inside the tower at the time of the accident, were identified as a coast guard member, an official from the Port Authority and a port pilot. Two people were in hospital in critical condition.
The Jolly Nero vessel was said to have hit the 54-meter-high tower with its stern while leaving the port shortly after 11 pm (2100 GMT) Tuesday. Following standard procedures, it was being steered by a port authority pilot rather than by its captain.
"It is really an incredible event," Genoa Port Authority president Luigi Merlo told the La Repubblica daily.
"The weather conditions were perfect, the sea conditions," he was quoted as saying. "There was no wind, no other vessels moving. It was an absolutely routine operation."
An investigation for manslaughter was launched. Magistrates seized the ship and summoned its captain for questioning amid suggestions that the Jolly Nero went off course during its exit manoeuvre because its engines failed.
President Giorgio Napolitano said the entire country was in "deep grief" while Genoa's mayor declared a city-wide state of mourning for Thursday.
Freight traffic at the port was halted while ferry and cruise ship services were continuing.
Genoa is Italy's biggest commercial port and one of the largest in the Mediterranean.Author: Alvise Armellini