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Frantic search for woman who fell overboard on P&O cruise ship

Frantic search for woman who fell overboard on P&O cruise ship

In a statement, P&O said it had searched throughout the night and into the morning without success.

"We are still continuing our search at this time", she said. High winds and rough seas made the search hard.

P&O Cruises spokesman David Jones had earlier flagged that the search would continue until maritime authorities agreed to call it off, but admitted hopes were fading.

The ship turned around immediately to search for the woman but Australian maritime authorities chose to end the search at around 07:30 Friday.

"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, speaking from the bridge, told passengers in a recording published by News Corp.

The ship turned around when the alert was issued and began searching in what was described by AMSA as "rough conditions with a three to four-metre swell".

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Queensland police said they would meet the Pacific Dawn when it docked in Brisbane on Sunday, to investigate the incident. Some passengers say the woman went outside to be seasick and was knocked overboard by a freak wave, though others have given conflicting accounts.

The ship's owner P&O told the news site that a crew member witnessed the woman fall over the side of the ship about 4pm AEST, 150 nautical miles west of New Caledonia.

While the passenger said the emergency was handled well by crew she added there has been no official announcement about where the woman fell from.

The ship was on a week-long cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia and has now resumed its course for Brisbane.

A passenger onboard Pacific Dawn says its parent cruise ship company can not be faulted for the way it has handled the tragedy of a woman falling overboard. It had left Brisbane last Saturday on a seven-night "Pacific Island Hopper" cruise.