Cruise ship woman dropped into sea dies in hospital

Janet and George Richardson
Image caption Mrs Richardson was in the water for several minutes

A woman from Cumbria who was dropped into near-freezing sea waters off Norway while being transferred from a cruise ship to another vessel has died.

Janet Richardson, 73, was taken ill on board the Ocean Countess and, as paramedics tried to transfer her to the lifeboat, she fell into the sea.

She was rescued after several minutes and flown to Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary, where she died on Thursday.

UK operator Cruise and Maritime Voyages said it was "deeply shocked".

'Thought and prayers'

A spokesman said the company was co-operating with the Norwegian authorities which are carrying out an investigation.

Mrs Richardson, from near Penrith, had been struck down with internal bleeding on the voyage from Hull to Norway. She had hoped to see the Northern Lights with her husband George, 78.

According to eyewitness reports, as the paramedics were moving her from the ship to the lifeboat, the boats moved apart and Mrs Richardson fell into the sea.

Chris Coates, marketing director of Cruise and Maritime Voyages, said: "The directors and staff of Cruise and Maritime Voyages are all deeply shocked by the news received a short while ago that Mrs Janet Richardson has passed away.

Image caption Mrs Richardson had been a passenger aboard the Ocean Countess

"All our thoughts and prayers are with the Richardson family at this sad time.

"The Norwegian Search and Rescue Service, in co-operation with the Norwegian police, are still pursuing a full investigation into the incident.

"Cruise and Maritime Voyages are doing everything possible to assist with the full inquiry."

The investigation is being conducted by detectives from Salten Police District, based in Bodo, Norway.

Ann Karin, a spokeswoman for the force, said the inquiry was in its early stages and the actions of both the Ocean Countess's operators and the search and rescue team would be examined.

"We don't know yet if a crime has been committed. We are investigating to see if something happened that someone needs to be punished for," she said.

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