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The wave battered the British cruise ship Marco Polo, operated by Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) as it headed for its home port of Tilbury in Essex at the end of a 42-night voyage.
Water crashed through a window injuring a number of the 735 passengers, who were mainly British. An 85-year-old male passenger and a woman passenger in her 70s were airlifted off the ship. The male passenger later died.
A number of other passengers received minor injuries and were treated on board. The vessel, which has been to the Amazon in South America and to the West Indies, is due to dock at Tilbury in the early hours of Sunday.