P&O Pacific Dawn

(2:45 p.m. AEST) -- Pacific Dawn has departed Port Vila in Vanuatu following the tragic bus collision that saw two local Ni-Vanuatu killed and 10 P&O passengers seriously injured.

The vessel’s late departure follows the air-lifting of the 10 affected passengers to hospital care in Noumea and Brisbane, P&O spokesman David Jones told Cruise Critic.

“We took the decision that we were not going to have Pacific Dawn leave Port Vila until we were completely satisfied that airlift arrangements were advanced and on their way to completion,” he said.

“By around lunchtime, we became satisfied the airlift was significantly advanced.”

As a result, the ship is on its way to the Isle of Pines, the next scheduled stop in its itinerary. The one-day delay caused by the incident means that it did not make today’s scheduled call at Mystery Island.

Jones said the remaining passengers onboard the vessel had been “fantastic” in light of the situation.

“They have been as concerned about those affected as we have,” he said.

“We would like to express our condolences to the families of the two Ni-Vanuatu local people who passed away, who were on the other local bus involved in the collision.”

Although Jones said he was unable to comment on the condition of the air-lifted passengers, he confirmed they had been stabilised before being airlifted and that they had been “well cared for” by the health services in Port Vila.

“But we were very conscious that this is a big event for Vanuatu and Port Vila in terms of pressure on health services so we took the decision to airlift,” he explained.

--by Anne Majumdar, Cruise Critic contributor