Sick cruise passenger dropped in sea

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A grandmother taken ill on a cruise ship fell into the freezing Arctic Ocean after being dropped by paramedics transferring her to a rescue boat, it was revealed today.

It took eight minutes to recover Janet Richardson, 73, from the icy waters.

Mrs Richardson, from Penrith, Cumbria, was travelling with her husband George, 78, on the cruise ship Ocean Countess.

She was taken to hospital in Norway and later transferred to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, where she is still being treated.

Mrs Richardson had been struck down with internal bleeding on the voyage from Hull to Norway on a trip to see the Northern Lights.

The captain of the Ocean Countess, operated by UK company Cruise and Maritime Voyages, had called for a rescue boat to take her to hospital.

As she was being lifted from the ship to the rescue boat, her stretcher slipped from the grasp of the rescuers and she fell into the water.

"It was very traumatic to see her fall in. I thought I was going to lose her," Mr Richardson told The Sun.

Another passenger, Colin Prescott, told the newspaper how the two boats had suddenly moved apart and the rescue team had been unable to keep hold of the stretcher.

"We thought she was a goner," he said.