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A 79-year-old man passed away this morning onboard P&O’s Pacific Pearl, despite a dramatic race against time to take him to hospital.

The ship put out a distress call for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service at Lismore after the passenger fell ill.

The Pearl was five kilometres off the Ballina coast, en route from Moreton Island to Sydney on its 14-night Barrier Reef Discovery cruise.

But by the time the rescue flight arrived at the ship, the male passenger had died. A doctor was winched aboard to confirm he had passed away.

P&O has this afternoon released the following statement: “An early morning medical evacuation from P&O Cruises’ Pacific Pearl off the NSW North Coast had been arranged for the transfer to shore of a 79-year-old male passenger with a serious medical condition. The patient had been cared for during the night by medical staff in Pacific Pearl‘s onboard medical centre. However, this morning his condition unfortunately deteriorated suddenly and he passed away before the medical evacuation could be completed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the man’s family at this time.”

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