A PASSENGER has been killed during stormy conditions aboard the Marco Polo on the English Channel.

The cruise ship, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages - which operates out of the Port of Tilbury - was bound for the Thurrock terminal when it was hit by a large wave off the coast of Cornwall.

An 85-year-old man died after water crashed through one of the vessel's windows.

A woman, aged 70, was airlifted to hospital but her condition is not said to be life threatening. Fourteen other passengers aboard the ship, which was due at Tilbury this afternoon after completing a 42-night cruise to the Azores, were left with minor injuries.

The vessel's Waldorf Restaurant sustained damage during the incident but the CMV bosses say tomorrow night's scheduled sailing to the Northern Lights will go ahead.

At lunchtime on Saturday, a spokesman for CMV said: "Cruise and Maritime Voyages confirm that following a freak wave that hit their cruise ship Marco Polo yesterday afternoon during adverse sea conditions, the ship is now in calmer seas en-route from the Azores to her home port of London Tilbury.

"We regret to advise that one elderly passenger has died and a second unrelated passenger was airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance where we understand her condition is not life threatening.

"14 passengers have sustained minor injuries and were treated in the ship's medical centre.

"All of our passengers have been kept fully updated of the situation.

"Marco Polo has sustained some damage in the Waldorf Restaurant and following reparation works will sail tomorrow evening from Tilbury on her scheduled 14 nights cruise to Norway and the land of the Northern Lights."

The vessel sailed from Tilbury on January 5 and is carrying 735 mainly British passengers and 349 crew.

The company spokesman said: "Our thoughts are very much with these passengers and their families during this difficult time."

Severe warnings for wind and rain were issued by the Met Office as more high winds and heavy rain battered the south and south east of England on Friday night.