| 7.6°C Dublin

Cruise passengers relive terror of killer waves

Passengers on the ill-fated luxury cruise ship hit by a series of freak waves have spoken of the terrifying incident in which two people lost their lives and a number of others were injured.

Italian Anna Lita (68) said she was standing in the cruise ship lounge when a monstrous wave shattered the windows and sent shards into her head, leaving her bleeding on the floor and calling out for her husband.

Torrents of water gushed into the Louis Majesty, pouring through several floors of the ship.

"I thought I would end up in the sea, drowned," said Anna Lita, who had a black eye and bandages on her head and hand yesterday.

The three waves that struck the Cypriot-owned ship on Wednesday claimed two lives off the coast of northeast Spain. The vessel was carrying 1,350 passengers and 580 crew members, from 27 countries.

Lita's husband Carlo (69) who had been beside her on a sofa, was thrown in the air and ended up with five stitches in the head and a leg injury.

Another Italian, Giovanni Zanoni, said that after the waves blew out the windows of the lounge, the ceiling caved in and pandemonium broke out.

"People were screaming, panicking. They were grabbing life vests," Zanoni said. He said he saw one huge shard of glass hit a man in the face, killing him.

The ship's owner and operator, Louis Cruise Lines, said the vessel was struck on Wednesday by three "abnormally high" waves more than 33 feet (10 meters) high that broke glass windshields in the forward section on deck five, which is one of 10 used by passengers. Two people died and 14 were slightly hurt, the company said.

This accident happened in an area of the Mediterranean called the Gulf of Leon, which is known for big waves when storms hit.