Venice gondola tourist crushed to death

Gondola in Venice, 17 August The gondola, right, was in collision with a waterbus

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A tourist has been crushed to death during a gondola ride on the famous Grand Canal in Venice.

The German man, 50, was with his wife and three children in a gondola when it was in a collision with a "vaporetto", or water bus.

The water bus, which carries the public around the canals of the city, was either docking at or leaving the Rialto stop when the collision occurred.

A three-year-old girl is being treated for head injuries.

She was taken to hospital in nearby Padua.

The girl and the rest of her family were thrown into the water by the force of the collision.

Crowded waterways

Venice fire chief of staff, Giovanni Carlesso, said the vaporetto had apparently not seen the gondola.

The father appeared to have been crushed between the two vessels.

"I am really sad after what has happened," said Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni.

An investigation has been launched.

The flat-bottomed gondolas are all painted black and were for centuries the main form of transportation around Venice's lagoons.

Their main function now is as a tourist attraction.

Gondoliers are controlled by a guild that oversees training and issues limited licences.

Questions are often raised about safety given the crowded waterways.

In 2011, four Spanish tourists were thrown into the water after their gondola was hit by the wake of a motorboat. They were quickly rescued.

In 2004, a family of Dutch tourists was also thrown into a canal.

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