The captain of a P&O cruise ship near New Caledonia has made the sad announcement to passengers that a woman who fell overboard hasn’t been located and the ship is heading back to Brisbane.
The woman fell overboard from the Pacific Dawn about 4pm on Thursday, around 150 nautical miles west of New Caledonia, during a week-long cruise in the Pacific.
A search began immediately and continued through the night, with rough conditions hampering efforts.
It was officially called off on Friday at 7.30am as hopes faded of finding the missing woman.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I need to let you know that we have been unable to locate our guest,” the captain of the Dawn Pacific told passengers on Friday morning.
“We are still in the area of the incident, and the weather conditions with the swell three to four metres high, as you can see outside, the strong wind made our search extremely challenging.
“As a result, we have now made the extremely difficult decision to continue our journey towards Brisbane.
“I know I speak on behalf of all of you when I say our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
The woman, believed to have been on holiday with her husband and children, reportedly went to the deck to be sick when a freak wave knocked her overboard.
Passengers said her husband saw her fall and went into shock. Life rings were immediately thrown into the water, but there was no sign of her, The Courier-Mail reported.
“The difficult decision to suspend the search was made only after expert advice that survival after this length of time in difficult sea conditions and after a full night at sea was not considered possible,” Carnival Australia spokesman David Jones said on Friday.
Mr Jones said earlier that a crew member notified the bridge as soon as the woman fell and the ‘man overboard’ incident response was activated immediately.
“In line with this response, Pacific Dawn turned around to follow the course it was on at the time of the incident.”
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority and New Caledonian authorities have issued a call for nearby vessels to assist in the search.
“At 7.30am (Sydney time) on Friday the search was called off, based on expert medical advice on survival time,” an AMSA spokeswoman told AAP.
Members of Queensland Police will board the ship when it arrives in Brisbane on Saturday about 11am, she said.
Our thoughts are with all involved. So terribly sad x
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