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Passenger dies as freak wave hits Marco Polo in Channel

February 17, 2014 Cruise, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59An 85-year-old male passenger aboard the British cruise ship Marco Polo, a vessel much loved by Australian cruisers, has died after a freak wave hit the ship in the approaches to the English Channel.

Another passenger, a woman in her 70s, was airlifted to shore after the monster wave slammed into the 22,000-tonne ship as storms continued to batter Britain throughout the weekend.

Marco Polo, originally designed for Arctic cruising, has an ice-strengthened hull and its speed (up to 20 knots) generally makes for a smoother ride. The ship, equipped with huge fin stabilisers, is said to give a much more stable ride than smaller ships, especially in unpredictable seas.

The rogue wave sent water crashing through a window and injured “a number” of the 735 passengers aboard, Britain’s Independent newspaper reported. The passengers were mainly British.

Other passengers received minor injuries and were treated aboard.

Operated by Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), the ship was heading for its home port of Tilbury in Essex at the end of a 42-night voyage to the Amazon and Caribbean when the wave struck. The ship docked at Tilbury yesterday.

“CMV regrets to advise that earlier today their cruise ship m/s Marco Polo, en-route to her home port of Tilbury from the Azores, was hit by a freak wave during adverse sea conditions in the south western approaches of the English Channel,” the company stated.

“One elderly passenger has died and a further passenger has been airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance. The vessel sailed from Tilbury on January 5.

“Our thoughts are very much with these passengers and their families during this difficult time.”

The news came as tens of thousands of households in Britain struggled through the weekend without power, after gusts of up to 175 km/h battered parts of the country. Violent storms continue to pound beaches, cliffs and promenades while heavy rain has caused widespread flooding. Members of the public were warned at the weekend to stay away from coastal areas.

Four of Britain’s 10 wettest years in over a century have occurred since 2000, papers there are reporting.

Written by Peter Needham

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