Crewman's death hits passengers

Emerald Princess at Port Chalmers yesterday.
Emerald Princess at Port Chalmers yesterday.
Passengers say the death yesterday of a crewman on board a cruise shop docked at Port Chalmers has ''affected everyone'' on the vessel.

The Filipino seaman was killed while carrying out technical work on the Emerald Princess  about 4.45pm.

Police this morning completed a scene examination, and investigators have travelled to Dunedin from Wellington to begin an inquiry into the incident.

An Australian couple from Wagga, New South Wales, declined to be named, but said there had been a significant change to the atmosphere on board since the accident.

"After yesterday, it's quiet and everyone's keeping more to themselves.

"It's affected everyone. It's sad to know that someone on board has died. It was weird for us because we didn't even hear it [the explosion].

"We were just in our room and we heard them call the medical team to them. We just thought someone had fallen over or something, and then a few minutes later the captain came over the speaker, announcing what had happened.

"So it was kind of a shock to us - to everyone really - because a lot of people were off the ship at the time and he had to announce it again later once everyone was back on board."

The couple said they had been told to be back on board the vessel at noon, but it had not yet departed.

It was not known what time it would depart today.

The vessel was scheduled to visit Milford Sound next, but it would instead head straight for Sydney, they said.

"That's a bit of a disappointment, but it's understandable."

A Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) spokesman said two investigators left Wellington at first light today.

They planned to conduct interviews with relevant people on board and inspect the accident site.

The investigators would also take evidence and photographs.

The spokesman said it was uncertain how long they would be on board.

It may be the investigators would stay on board if the ship sailed.

``It's happened before,'' the spokesman said.

``We can't rule that out, it's just too early to say.''

``Our principal role it to investigate the circumstances and causes of an accident, with a view to identifying safety lessons for the industry. '' he said.

Once the investigation was completed the investigators would return to Wellington and analyse the material they had, which may open up more avenues of investigation.

A draft report would then be put together for the commission's consideration.

The commission could not impose its recommendations, but they were ``viewed very seriously by the industry''.

``It's all about learning lessons from this to avoid repeat occurrences.''

- additional reporting John Lewis




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