Cruise death: Gas explosion kills man on Emerald Princess
A GAS explosion on an Australian cruise ship has killed a crew member in New Zealand's Port Chalmers.
The explosion on the Emerald Princess, a Sydney-based liner operated by Princess Cruises and part of Carnival Australia, happened just after 3pm Australia time yesterday, while the ship was docked in the Dunedin port.
The Daily Telegraph understands the deceased was not an Australia national and Carnival Australia was still trying to contact relatives on Thursday night.
Corporate communications manager for Carnival Australia, David Jones, said first reports "indicate that the incident happened during technical work on the hydraulic launching system on a tender vessel."
"We are deeply saddened that a member of Emerald Princess' crew was fatally injured in the incident," Mr Jones said.
Carnival Australia was working closely with police and other authorities and assisting in their response and inquiries, he said.
The explosion, which could be heard almost two kilometres away, was at the stern of the 113,000-tonne ship, which can carry 3082 passengers.
It is believed the accident happened while the ship's lifeboats were being reinflated on one of the decks.
A 45kg gas bottle reportedly exploded and flew through the air, killing the crew member.
Australian passenger Krystal Friggieri, on board the Emerald Princess, told The New Zealand Herald she was on a nearby deck when the incident occurred.
"There was an explosion, it was pretty loud ... all I saw then was the gas bottle spinning on the (wharf)," she said.
The captain of the ship spoke to the passengers via the intercom shortly after and informed them a crew member had died.
"He's been keeping us informed. Everyone's a bit upset," she said.
Maritime Union Port Chalmers-Dunedin secretary Phil Adams told the Herald he was working in the port's control room when he heard "this massive explosion''.
"I just heard this massive explosion and got up and I saw this pipe or a tube lying on the wharf ... it was a gas cylinder, by the sounds of things, that had just blown straight off the ship and on to the wharf," he said.
"It's quite sad, really, that something like this has happened at our port.''
"Man, I've never heard an explosion like it in my bloody life. I'd say most of Port (Chalmers) felt it.''
Mr Adams said his first thought, upon hearing the explosion, was "terrorism... but it's certainly not that''.
He said he did not see a fireball, and there were no obvious signs of damage on the cruise ship, but emergency services remained at the scene.
Otago ambulance officers have confirmed no one else was injured in the accident.
"It's quite sad, really, that something like this has happened at our port,'' Mr Adams said.
The Emerald Princess was on a 12-night round trip cruise from Sydney to various destinations in New Zealand.
She was scheduled to weigh anchor at 4pm Australia time yesterday to cruise to Fiordland, but now remains in Port Chalmers while an investigation by police, Worksafe NZ and Maritime NZ continues.