Search Called Off Hours After Woman Falls From Cruise Ship

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"Our thoughts and prayers are with the guest's family at this distressing time".

It's believed the woman went on to the deck to be sick when a freak wave knocked her overboard, Nine Network reported on Friday.

Mr Jones said earlier that a crew member notified the bridge as soon as the woman fell and the "man overboard" incident response was activated immediately.

The search continued throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning with rough conditions and large swell making the operation hard. No suspicious circumstances were identified at the time.

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Australian authorities have called off a search for a Brisbane woman who fell overboard from a cruise ship in the Coral Sea. She said the primary response lies with the ship's flag state which is the UK. After hours of searching in rough seas and high winds, the captain told passengers that "with a heavy heart", they had "made the extremely hard decision to continue our journey towards Brisbane", reports the Courier Mail.

A ship passenger, who asked not to be named, described the atmosphere onboard as "very sad, solemn and quiet".

The rescue effort was hampered by challenging conditions, including swells up to 4m (13ft) and high winds.

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.

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The spokeswoman said the death investigation would now fall into the hands of Queensland police and English Maritime Safety authorities because the ship was registered in the UK.

"She leaned over and the ship rocked in heavy seas - her husband tried to catch her but she slipped", one passenger shared on social media.

The ship was on a seven-night cruise from Brisbane to the South Pacific with scheduled calls to Noumea, Lifou and Port Vila.

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