Toninelli to blame for Venice ship

'Close to solution for big ships' minister retorts

(ANSA) - Venice, July 8 - Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli is to blame for Sunday's near-accident by a cruise ship that veered dangerously close to Venice buildings and narrowly missed a yacht just after passing St Mark's Square amid a gale-swept hailstorm in the lagoon city, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said Monday.
    "The biggest responsibility for what happened yesterday is and for what may happen in the future is on the part of he who did not take a decision in the last few months," Brugnaro said referring to Toninelli's alleged failure to ban the huge liners that ply the waters very close to Venice.
    Toninelli retorted: "Brugnaro as usual is talking nonsense.
    "After years of inertia also on the part of those on his political side, we are close to a serious solution to put the big ships outside Venice.
    "Marghera is a terrible option due to safety and environmental concerns, and we'll convince UNESCO of that too.
    There will be a summit of Venice prosecutors and the harbour master's office later Monday over the incident involving the Costa Crociere ship, sources said earlier.
    As a formality, prosecutor Andrea Pedroni will open a probe against person or persons unknown, judicial sources said.
    The centre-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) called Toninelli "the minister of disasters who has paralysed one of the most strategic ministries for the country's growth".
    PD Senator Andrea Ferrazzi, PD leader on the House environment committee, said "a disaster was averted by a hairs' breadth yesterday".