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Three dead as ship crashes into control tower

AT least three people were killed when a cargo ship slammed into a control tower in the Italian port of Genoa, toppling it into the harbour, rescue officials said today.

Four other people were taken to hospital and half a dozen remained unaccounted for, including some feared trapped inside the submerged lift of the control tower, officials said.

Genoa police chief Massimo Maria Mazza confirmed that three bodies had been extracted from the wreckage.

The crash happened at around 11pm local time last night during a shift change, making the accounting of personnel more difficult.

By this morning, all that was left of the control tower was the mangled exterior staircase, tilted to its side.

The tower itself – which was located on the very edge of a dock jutting out into the harbour – was either in the water or in a heap of wreckage on the dock.

Andrea Furgani, an ambulance doctor and one of the first rescuers, said crews initially took four casualties to hospitals in the Genoa area.

"The conditions were critical. They mainly suffered wounds caused by compression, broken bones and wounds on the chest," he said.

The ship was the Jolly Nero of the Ignazio Messina & C SpA Italian shipping line.

According to its website, the Genoa-based Messina Line has a fleet of 14 cargo ships, with the Italian-flagged Jolly Nero listed as being 239m long and 30m wide.