A newspaper in the U.K. reports that a seriously ill British passenger was inadvertently dumped into freezing waters off of the coast of Norway during what is described as a "bungled cruise ship rescue."
The Champion newspaper reports that a couple on the cruise ship, Colin and Sheila Prescott, watched in horror as Norwegian emergency crews were attempting to transfer the sick passenger from the cruise ship to a rescue vessel. The two vessels drifted apart several feet as the transfer was taking place, causing the rescue crew to drop the stretcher into the icy sea.
Mr. Prescott snapped a photo of the incident.
The water was reportedly "minus three degrees" (celsius – salt water begins to freeze at this temperature). The passenger was in the water for about "eight minutes or so" before she was finally rescued and transported shore-side to the hospital.
The newspaper reports that the incident involved the "Ocean Princess," which seems to be an error. It appears the cruise ship was actually the Ocean Countess operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
April 20, 2011 Update: A number of newspapers are now reporting on this story and contain some interesting photos – Cruise Passenger Dropped into Freezing Waters During Botched Rescue – Continued.
Photo credit: Colin Prescott via Champion newspaper