A passenger photographing crew on board Pacific Dawn searching for missing lady. Picture: Supplied
A passenger photographing crew on board Pacific Dawn searching for missing lady. Picture: Supplied

PACIFIC DAWN: First photo from tragic P&O cruise

A NEW photo has emerged from inside P&O;'s Pacific Dawn cruise ship, as an eyewitness has claimed she saw a woman seconds before she fell overboard.

The photo, which emerged on Facebook, shows cruise ship staff on the deck of the ship as an eyewitness came forward with new details.

The victim is a 47-year-old woman from Brisbane, who was reportedly with her husband on a deck, which is about five metres away from where other passengers were playing table tennis.

The witness, who asked not to be named, said she walked over to a deck and began to vomit while leaning over a railing of the Pacific Dawn. She then lost her footing.

Her account of the woman's final moments appears to confirm earlier reports that the woman was unwell before she went overboard.

"(She was) vomiting outside, near the table tennis area" the guest on-board recalled, the Courier Mail reports.

"Leaning over, not far over, then she fell. When she went over he collapsed."

The guest claimed that there was no freak wave that hit the ship before the victim lost her footing and fell overboard.

"Unaware as to how she fell. The rails are all chest hight on me and I'm 5'4"," she said.

Her husband, who saw her fall over collapsed in shock after the tragic event.

The ship continued to circle the area for hours, searching the woman's body.

But nothing had been found as they scoured the ocean about 150 nautical miles off New Caledonia from around 4pm on Thursday.

The ship remained in the area to search again on Friday before the search was called off from about 7.30am.

A P&O spokesman said expert advice was that "survival after this length of time in difficult sea conditions and after a full night at sea was not considered possible".

The captain announced to passengers over a public address system

"It is with a very heavy heart that I need to let you know that we have been unable to locate our guest," he said.

A graphic showing approximately where the woman fell from the Pacific Dawn. Picture: Channel 9
A graphic showing approximately where the woman fell from the Pacific Dawn. Picture: Channel 9

"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."

A letter to passengers from P&O yesterday said the woman's family was being looked after by "special care trained crew".

Queensland police will investigate the circumstances surrounding her fall.

The vessel is due to dock in Brisbane on Sunday at 6am with police set to meet it to conduct interviews with crew and passengers, however, they stress no suspicious circumstances have been identified at this stage.

A crew member saw the woman fall off the Pacific Dawn at about 4pm when it was 300km west of Pacific island New Caledonia. One passenger posted an image on Twitter of a life ring floating in the water and said the situation was 'horrendous'. Picture: Twitter/Jonathan Trevithick
A crew member saw the woman fall off the Pacific Dawn at about 4pm when it was 300km west of Pacific island New Caledonia. One passenger posted an image on Twitter of a life ring floating in the water and said the situation was 'horrendous'. Picture: Twitter/Jonathan Trevithick

One guest told AAP that passengers had been updated with developments from the outset.

"The captain and crew have been put in an unimaginable position yet have handled themselves professionally and with the respect to the victim and her family," she said.

The ship, which has a total capacity for 1546 guests, left Brisbane on Saturday on a seven-day round trip to Vanuatu.

The guest also told AAP that this was her 10th cruise with P&O, her 12th overall, and was "by far the worst thing I've seen happen on a cruise".

She said there was a sombre mood on-board and passengers had been kept well-informed of the situation.



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