Search for British woman feared overboard during Queen Mary 2 cruise

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A search has been launched for a British woman thought to have fallen overboard during a cruise on the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner.

The woman was on a tour of the Caribbean which left New York on Thursday.

The cruise ship, the flagship ocean liner of the Cunard company, has turned back to help look for her.

A spokeswoman for the company said: "We can confirm that Queen Mary 2 has altered course to search for a missing guest, presumed overboard.

"The ship left New York yesterday, December 22, on a 12-night Caribbean itinerary. Cunard's care team is offering all support to the family."

The US Coast Guard is involved in the search, having launched a C-130 fixed wing plane and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to scour the sea.

Petty Officer David Micallef told the Press Association the 74-year-old was reported missing between 1am and 3am US time on Friday, (8pm to 10pm on Thursday, British time).

Mr Micallef said the ship was around 100 nautical miles south east of Atlantic City in New Jersey when the alarm was raised, and that rescuers had been searching for her since first light.

He said: "The Coast Guard is actively searching for her and we're sending out the resources that we can to assist in the search."

The Queen Mary 2, based in the port of Southampton, was built in 2003 at a cost of £700 million and launched the following year.

The luxury ship was renovated earlier this year and boasts suites, state rooms and the "largest library at sea", with 8,000 books, according to the Cunard website.