Freak tsunami-like waves measuring almost 30ft high ploughed into a Mediterranean cruise ship today, sweeping two passengers to their deaths and injuring many others.
Cyprus-based Louis Cruise Lines says the incident occurred aboard the 1,790-passenger Louis Majesty as it was sailing from Barcelona to Genoa, Italy. The line says the “abnormal” waves smashed windows as high as deck five on the vessel.
“The windows in a public area on deck 5 on the forward part of the vessel smashed resulting (in) the fatal injury of two passengers of German and Italian nationality while 14 more passengers suffered light injuries,” the line says in a statement.
The horrific tragedy unfolded on the Cypriot-owned Louis Majesty near the French port of Marseilles after the walls of water appeared from nowhere.
‘There were at least three abnormally high waves which broke windshields and cascaded along the decks,’ said a local coastguard spokesman.
There were around 1350 people on the ship, including crew. The casualties were very serious, with a German and an Italian passenger dying. At least six other people suffered injuries.’
The Marseilles coastguard spokesman said the waves were approaching 30ft high and may have been part of an isolated tsunami.
The Louis Majesty, which is operated by Louis Cruise Lines, was on its way from Barcelona to Genoa in Italy, but has returned to Spain following the accident.
A tsunami is a series of waves usually caused by the displacement of sea water. All kinds of factors can cause them, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and underwater explosions.
A new report issued last summer revealed that millions of people living and holidaying in the Mediterranean area are at risk of being hit by a tsunami.
The World Disasters Report, by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said there is no tsunami early-warning alert system for the region, even though it is considered to be more vulnerable than the Indian Ocean.
Disaster expert Peter Rees-Gildea in July last year: ‘If you look at population density along the Mediterranean coast and the topography and what could happen with a major tsunami, the figures are self-evident. It would be absolutely catastrophic.
‘Why we do not have an early warning system I do not understand. This is a real serious problem where millions of lives could be lost.’
More than 300,000 people were killed when a tsunami struck Indonesia and southern Thailand in December 2004.