Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Passengers injured as storm hits cruise ship

More than 40 passengers were injured when their P&O cruise ship was caught in 25ft swells and high winds, it was revealed today.

Some of the 1,732 passengers aboard the Pacific Sun feared for their lives with one emailing a message reading: "We are nearly on our side. If we get out of this, it will be a miracle."

Some passengers were reportedly injured when machines in the ship's casino came loose while crockery flew in the dining area during the storm off New Zealand.

Eventually, the vessel, which was on an eight-night South Pacific cruise was able to dock today at Auckland in New Zealand. The company said it had been "superficially" damaged.

One of the first to disembark was Jacinda Pollard. She said: "We heard stuff crashing everywhere. We heard screaming, things were a bit of a mess. Casino machines fell over."

One woman, Cerise Jordan, said her mother, who had been aboard, had confirmed that a number of passengers had been injured - most with varying degrees of bruising. She said that the staff have been fantastic in extremely difficult circumstances.

Ms Jordan said: "Last night when the ship rolled she and her party were in the casino. They were injured as a result of machines coming loose and rolling into them. When in the dining hall the ship rolled again and she said all the crockery went flying."

A statement released by the company today said counselling was being offered to passengers and crew who had been shaken by the experience. The company had also arranged travel and a hotel for waiting family and friends.

The vessel is owned by P&O Australia which is a separate company from the UK P&O Cruises but is part of the Carnival empire which includes Cunard.

A P&O Cruises spokeswoman in the UK said today: "The ship rolled in seven-metre sells and winds up to 50 knots. Most of those injured suffered cuts and bruises."