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Venice gondola capsizes after tourists stand to take selfies

By Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN

(CNN) — A group of Chinese tourists landed in cold water in Venice after the gondola they were in flipped over while they were standing up to take selfies.

The five visitors swam safely to the canal bank and then sought refuge at La Fenice theater, according to Venice police. No one was injured during Sunday’s incident, but at least one of the tourists lost a cellphone in the mishap, which occurred while the gondolier was trying to maneuver under a low bridge, police said.

There was no damage to the gondola but its upholstered chairs and blankets were thrown into the canal, a spokesman for the city’s gondola association told CNN Thursday.

He confirmed that the gondolier had instructed the tourists not to move around or stand up to take selfies during the maneuver, but due to a language barrier, the tourists did not comply.

The association recently limited the number of riders on gondolas from six to five, with the maximum weight per rider capped at 230 pounds.

There are currently 430 licensed gondoliers in Venice who work in shifts to accommodate tourists. The trade is often passed down from fathers to sons. There is currently only one licensed female gondolier.

Badly behaved tourists have been an issue in recent years, with notable episodes including a man who dived into the canal from a three-story building and others fined for swimming in the water.

Meanwhile, back in May, authorities launched an investigation after a mysterious green blob turned the canal fluorescent green. They discovered that a chemical had been dumped in the water, but it is not known how it came to be there.

Next year, Venice will institute an entrance fee for day trippers to the city to combat over-tourism.

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