January 15, 2007

2 Die, Dozens Hurt in Italy Boat Crash

ROME - A container ship and a commuter hydrofoil collided near the entrance to the Sicilian port of Messina on Monday evening, killing two people and injuring dozens, including three people trapped in the wreckage, officials said.

The two dead were aboard the hydrofoil, and firefighters were trying to free three others from its wreckage, Messina fire officials said. State TV said the two deaths were crew members.

"The bridge of the hydrofoil was destroyed," Messina Port Cmdr. Antonino Samiani said.

The hydrofoil, operated by the Italian state railways, was approaching Messina after crossing the Strait of Messina from Reggio Calabria when the accident occurred about 6 p.m., when many commuters were returning home from jobs on the mainland.

A state railways official in Calabria, Gaetano Pellizzeri, said about 55 people were injured.

Some of the passengers, with bloodied faces, were carried on stretchers to ambulances at the port.

The port office said the merchant vessel was the container ship Susan Borchard, which was navigating in the strait. All were safe aboard the ship, which later came into port, officials said. It was not immediately clear what the ship was carrying.

Samiani told state TV it was unclear what caused the collision.

Calabria, the "toe" of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula, is linked to the island of Sicily by air and sea routes.