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British cruise line: Passenger killed after 'freak wave' hits ship

By Talia Kayali and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • MS Marco Polo was entering the English Channel when it was hit, the cruise line said
  • One elderly passenger died and another was airlifted off the ship, it said
  • The ship was en route from the Azores to its home port of Tilbury, England

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(CNN) -- A passenger aboard the British-based cruise ship MS Marco Polo was killed after the ship was hit by a "freak wave during adverse sea conditions" as it made its way into the English Channel, according to a statement released Friday by the ship's owner, Cruise & Maritime Voyages.

"One elderly passenger has died and a further passenger has been airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance," it said.

The cruise line did not release the identity nor nationality of the dead passenger.

The ship was en route from the Azores to its home port in Tilbury, England, and it was carrying 735 passengers and 349 crew members, the cruise line said. The passengers are primarily British, it said.

Cruise ship virus outbreak.File photo dated 07/07/09 of an ambulance visible in front of the Transocean Tours operated Marco Polo, berthed in Invergordon, Easter Ross. The Marco Polo, which abandoned its round-Britain cruise after around 400 people fell ill with the norovirus, docked at Tilbury, Essex, today. More than 600 passengers have started making their way home but 11 who are still recovering from the illness will leave the ship later, a spokesman for the ship said. Issue date: Saturday July 11, 2009. The ship will stay in Tilbury until July 14 and in conjunction with the Port of London health authority, the vessel will undergo a full sanitisation programme. See PA story HEALTH Virus. Photo credit should read: Andrew Hamilton/PA Wire URN:7559766
Cruise ship virus outbreak.File photo dated 07/07/09 of an ambulance visible in front of the Transocean Tours operated Marco Polo, berthed in Invergordon, Easter Ross. The Marco Polo, which abandoned its round-Britain cruise after around 400 people fell ill with the norovirus, docked at Tilbury, Essex, today. More than 600 passengers have started making their way home but 11 who are still recovering from the illness will leave the ship later, a spokesman for the ship said. Issue date: Saturday July 11, 2009. The ship will stay in Tilbury until July 14 and in conjunction with the Port of London health authority, the vessel will undergo a full sanitisation programme. See PA story HEALTH Virus. Photo credit should read: Andrew Hamilton/PA Wire URN:7559766

The cruise line did not reveal the condition of the injured passenger or say whether there were other injuries.

A man whose mother and father are aboard the Marco Polo said he first learned of the incident when his parents texted him.

They said a large wave hit the side of the ship between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. local time as they were dining in one of the ship's restaurants, said the man, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity citing concern over a possible backlash against his parents.

When the wave hit, the windows in the restaurant burst and people were injured, the man said.

Passengers were asked to the go their rooms, and the man said his parents did that as the ship rocked side to side. The ship never lost power, he said.

The ship is scheduled to arrive in Tilbury on Sunday, he said.

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CNN's Brian Walker contributed to this report.

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