British grandmother dropped in Arctic Ocean dies

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A British grandmother who was dropped into the Arctic Ocean while being transferred from a cruise ship after falling ill has died in hospital, officials said Saturday.

Janet Richardon, 73, was left floating in freezing waters for eight minutes until rescuers plucked her to safety. Pictures showed her desperately trying to stay afloat in the rough sea in the incident on March 29.

"It is with regret that Mrs Janet Richardson passed away on Thursday evening" at Cumberland Infirmary in northwestern England, North Cumbria University Hospitals said in a statement.

"Respecting the family's wishes we have no further comment at this time."

Richardson and her husband George, 78, were on the howeward leg of a two-week voyage from Britain to see the natural phenomenon known as the Northern Lights when she started to suffer from internal bleeding on March 29.

Norwegian rescuers were dispatched in a boat to take her off the cruise liner, the Ocean Countess, but as they were moving her to the rescue vessel, the stretcher slipped from their hands.

She was eventually rescued and taken to the Norwegian port of Bodo before being transferred to Britain for further treatment.

Chris Coates, marketing director of Cruise and Maritime Voyages, the British firm that operates the Ocean Countess, said they were "deeply shocked by the news received today that Mrs Janet Richardson has passed away."

"The Norwegian search and rescue service, in cooperation with the Norwegian police and the ship owners, are still pursuing a full investigation into the incident," he said.

The firm was doing "everything possible" to help the inquiry, he added.

There was no immediate comment from Norwegian authorities.

© 2011 AFP

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