Venice fire chief of staff Giovanni Carlesso said the crash occurred around noon near the highly trafficked Rialto bridge.
He says the vaporetto, or the public "water bus", was either docking or pulling out of the Rialto stop and apparently did not see the nearby gondola, which was carrying five members of a visiting German family. All five passengers and the gondolier ended up in the water.
Mr Carlesso said the father was believed to have been crushed to death in the crash. His three-year-old child was taken to hospital in Padua with head injuries.
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