A 60-year-old American cruise liner passenger was killed when a rubber inflatable dinghy that was carrying her and other passengers on the ship to shore was hit by a huge wave. All 13 passengers on board the boat were swept into the icy waters of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Three others were injured in the accident.
Local authorities stated that the wave hit as passengers holidaying on the Sea Spirit cruise ship were enjoying a sightseeing excursion at the northern end of the Fjortende Julibukta in the Krossfjord, close to the Northwest Spitsbergen National Park.
Details of the incident remained unclear as local officials attempted to work out what happened before they received their first call for help at around midday on Monday. Emergency officials heard that a woman was injured in the Krossfjord accident and was being treated by the cruise liner’s doctor.
Svalbard deputy governor Lars Erik Alfheim said that the first report they received said that the woman required medical treatment, so they sent out their rescue helicopter and a doctor.
However, he explained that when the helicopter arrived at the scene, the woman had died. Three others on board the boat suffered what he described as ‘minor injuries’, with two of them being transported in the helicopter to be treated at the hospital in Longyearbyen.
Alfheim said that the circumstances surrounding the incident and the exact cause of the woman’s death remained unclear. He explained that she lost consciousness at some stage during the accident and an autopsy is due to take place.